The IDF announced on Monday the discovery of a fourth cross-border Hezbollah attack tunnel which infiltrated into northern Israel from Lebanon.
In a statement, the army said that the tunnel, which was found over the weekend, “is under IDF control and does not pose an imminent threat.”
While the military did not disclose the location, the statement said that the heads of relevant local authorities were notified and updated on the discovery.
Like the previously discovered tunnels, it was filled with explosives ahead of its neutralization in order to prevent any possible use of it by Hezbollah militants.
“Anyone who enters it from the Lebanese side endangers their life,” the army said.
“The Lebanese government is responsible for the digging of the tunnels from Lebanese territory. This is a serious violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield last week in order to detect and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Iranian-backed Shi’ite organization. Israel believes that the tunnels would have been used by the Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit to infiltrate into Israel in an attempt to take control of communities and kill as many civilians and troops as possible.
Dozens of Hezbollah tunnels
are believed to have been dug along the 130 kilometer border between the two countries, and the military said that the operation dubbed “Northern Shield” would take weeks or even months to complete.
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 won’t be bound by that limitation and will also operate against the tunnels in southern Lebanon.
Israel maintains that the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL
) must act to destroy the tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border. The head of UNIFIL, Maj.-Gen. Stefano Del Col has called the matter “serious” after confirming the existence of two cross-border tunnels.
“This is a work in progress, and UNIFIL will make every effort to maintain clear and credible channels of communication with both sides so that there is no room for misunderstanding on this sensitive matter,” read a UNIFIL statement, adding that “the calm and stability along the Blue Line must be preserved.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, said last week that Beirut takes the issue “seriously” and that Israel’s operation to destroy the tunnels won’t endanger the calm along the border. Aoun said that the Lebanese army “will deal with this issue” after it received a full report from UNIFIL.
Israeli Prime Minister and acting Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile 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. Israel, he said, “is completely prepared” for any challenge it might face during the operation, which he said would continue until the IDF “totally nullifies the Hezbollah tunnel threat.”
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