Hezbollah tunnels to be focus of three-way meeting

UNIFIL confirms existence of fourth underground cross-border passage

December 30, 2018 14:34
3 minute read.
An Israeli soldier lowers a camera down an Israeli-dug hole into a cross-border tunnel dug from Leba

An Israeli soldier lowers a camera down an Israeli-dug hole into a cross-border tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel, as seen on the Israeli side of the border, near the town of Metula December 19, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)


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The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will hold a meeting with representatives from the IDF and the Lebanese Armed Forces to discuss the cross border tunnels dug by Hezbollah into northern Israel, it was announced on Sunday.

The meeting, whose date was not disclosed, will be held at UNIFIL’s base in Naqoura in southern Lebanon. Other violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701 will also be discussed, UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told Lebanon’s National News Agency.

Israel launched Operation Northern Shield in early December to discover and destroy tunnels dug into northern Israel by the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group. The IDF has found five tunnels and destroyed at least four of them, two by explosives and another two by flooding with liquid concrete.

The Israeli military has repeatedly warned that the Lebanese government is responsible for the digging of the tunnels, which they say were part of a Hezbollah plan to attack communities in northern Israel.

On Friday the military flooded at least two tunnels with liquid concrete to prevent Hezbollah from using them. The tunnels extended several meters into Israel near the community of Metulla.

The concrete was seen coming out of one tunnel in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, from where the tunnel was dug, and in a residential building that was used to make bricks, located next to the border fence.

“This fact indicates Hezbollah’s use of civilian structures in the heart of an urban area in southern Lebanon, in flagrant violation of Resolution 1701 and endangering its citizens by using them as human shields,” the IDF said in a statement.

“It is clear that this factory belongs to Hezbollah and was used to build tunnels,” Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said. He added there were other locations in Kafr Kila connected to tunnels where the IDF saw material come out, including into residential homes.

“The IDF views the Lebanese government as responsible for the digging of the tunnels and for the consequences of its action. This is a serious violation of Resolution 1701 and the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” the IDF spokesperson warned.

On Saturday UNIFIL released a statement confirming the existence of four tunnels, including the ones flooded by the IDF.

“In the course of the ongoing investigation into the presence of tunnels along the Blue Line, UNIFIL together with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) surveyed the premises of an old concrete factory in the southern part of (Kafr Kila), after UNIFIL had observed liquefied cement flowing out from the building within this facility,” the statement said.

“The liquid overflowing on the Lebanese side had been injected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) through a shaft drilled on their end of a tunnel that UNIFIL had previously independently confirmed to be crossing the Blue Line in the same general area. Based on this observation, UNIFIL can confirm that the old concrete factory in (the village) has an opening to the tunnel, which is crossing the Blue Line,” the statement added.

UNIFIL added that it had been informed by the IDF on Wednesday of another tunnel that had been destroyed near the Lebanese village of Ayta Ash Shab that had not been reported to UN peacekeepers, “Therefore its existence has not been independently verified by UNIFIL.”

Peacekeepers “conducted a post-blast assessment and observed a crater in the area,” the statement said, adding that UNIFIL was working with the Lebanese Army to assess any damage caused by the explosion.

“UNIFIL remains engaged with the parties to ensure that all activities in sensitive areas are duly coordinated, the Blue Line is fully respected by both sides, and to help the parties uphold their respective obligations towards the cessation of hostilities under resolution 1701,” the statement concluded.

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