IDF begins process of destroying Hezbollah tunnels

Spokesperson says Israel has informed UNIFIL of an additional cross-border tunnel

December 20, 2018 19:14
3 minute read.
IDF discovers an additional Hezbollah tunnel entering Israel from Lebanon, Operation Northern Shield

IDF discovers an additional Hezbollah tunnel entering Israel from Lebanon as part of Operation Northern Shield. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


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The IDF has began the process of sealing and destroying the Hezbollah tunnels that infiltrated into northern Israel from Lebanon and were located during Operation Northern Shield. So far, the  IDF destroyed a tunnel that was dug from the Shi'ite village of Ramiya and crossed into Israeli territory via explosives.

The destruction of the tunnels will be carried out in a number of ways in order to remove the threat and prevent the Hezbollah terrorist organization from using them and implementing its plans, the military said.

IDS spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said that while the destruction of the tunnels was occurring on Israeli territory, Hezbollah would not be able to use the tunnels from their side of the border.

The military explained that troops are continuing the operation “as planned” in order to identify other tunnels dug along the border.

According to Manelis, the IDF has informed UNIFIL of an additional tunnel that infiltrated into Israeli territory.

“The Lebanese government is responsible for digging the tunnels from Lebanese territory. This is a serious violation of Israeli sovereignty and of Resolution 1701,” Manelis said.

Unlike the tunnels dug by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, each tunnel found by the military on the Lebanese border has different characteristics, with some strengthened by concrete while others are burrowed straight into the rock.

While the military has not expanded on what they are using to seal the tunnels, the neutralization is being carried out by means that does not include an explosion.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier on Thursday, during a meeting in Beersheba with the president of Cyprus and the Greek prime minister, that Israel is using “special measures” in order to neutralize them.

"Israel is continuing its operation against Hezbollah's terrorist tunnels and will continue to do so until it reaches its goal,” he said. “We are continuing our efforts to neutralize the terror tunnels, and at this very moment we are exerting special measures to neutralize them. We will continue to act very aggressively against Iran’s attempts to establish itself in Syria.”

The IDF issued a warning on Sunday to Lebanese citizens to “temporarily leave” homes over cross-border attack tunnels built by the Shi’ite Lebanese terrorist group.

“Hezbollah built terror tunnels under Kfar Kila and Ramiya 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 what the outcomes of these actions will be on the relevant buildings on the Lebanese side. Is it not time for you to insist that Hezbollah gives you clear answers? 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.”

The IDF has stressed that it only plans to operate against the Hezbollah attack tunnels on the Israeli side of the border, and maintains that the UN Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) must act to destroy the tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border.

Netanyahu has nevertheless warned Hezbollah that if it tried to interfere with the operation it would face an “unimaginable” response from Israel.

“If Hezbollah makes the mistake and decides in any way to attack us or to oppose our operation, they will be hit with unimaginable blows,” Netanyahu said during a tour of the northern border last week.

Israel, he said, “is completely prepared” for any challenge it might face during the operation that he said would continue until the IDF “totally nullifies the Hezbollah tunnel threat.”

According to the military, the Northern Command is in high readiness and has been reinforced with a variety of capabilities.

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