IDF officer reprimanded for investigating Hezbollah's flagship tunnel

"This is not a responsible operation, without prior coordination and not according to the security procedures," a military official was quoted as saying.

August 18, 2019 13:10
3 minute read.
Sixth cross-border Hezbollah tunnel discovered over the weekend to be destroyed in coming days.

Sixth cross-border Hezbollah tunnel discovered over the weekend to be destroyed in coming days.. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

One of the architects of the IDF’s Operation Northern Shield, which located and destroyed Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels, was reprimanded by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi after he crossed into Lebanon via one of the tunnels without informing his superiors.

According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, Brig.-Gen. Rafi Milo – who served as the commander of the Galilee Division until earlier this week – took several troops with him to investigate Hezbollah’s flagship tunnel until its entrance in the southern Lebanese town of Ramiyeh.

Milo did so at night without updating or coordinating his actions with any other officers – including the Head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram – contrary to safety procedures, risking his life and the lives of the soldiers who accompanied him, the report said.

“This is not a responsible operation, without prior coordination and not according to the security procedures,” a military official was quoted as saying.

Following the incident, Milo informed Baram of his actions. He was summoned by Kochavi who was reportedly “outraged” at the incident and reprimanded him, delaying Milo’s promotion to major general until 2022.

While Milo took full responsibility for his actions, reportedly telling Kochavi that while he “made an error in judgment,” he said, “but I’m a combat commander, and there’s no way that I wasn’t going in to see the entire tunnel.”

The tunnel had been dug at a depth of 80 m. and had 20 flights of stairs. The Ramiyah tunnel, which took Hezbollah several years to dig and had been in the process of being completed, contained railroads to transport equipment and garbage, and was equipped with lighting equipment, ventilation and ladders.

The cross-border Hezbollah terror tunnel was exposed by the IDF last January and destroyed in May using sealants in an operation led by the Northern Command and the Galilee Division after a months-long intelligence investigation was carried out along the route of the tunnel.

The tunnel began in the southern Lebanese village of Ramiya and stretched a km. before it infiltrated several dozen meters into northern Israel, close to the communities of Zarit and Shtula.

Israel launched Operation Northern Shield in early December to discover and destroy tunnels dug by the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group into northern Israel. After finding six tunnels, the IDF declared the end of the operation in mid-January, saying that it had “deprived Hezbollah of the unique offensive abilities it had built for years as part of its planned attack on Israeli territory,” and had strengthened security along the northern border.

On Thursday, Hezbollah released footage and pictures of the anti-ship missile that struck the INS Hanit during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, an incident that killed four Israeli soldiers in one of the war’s most significant attacks against the IDF.

In a documentary called #Army_To_Be_Drowned aired on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel marking the war’s anniversary, the group aired reconnaissance footage of the ship from the Lebanese coastline, preparations for the launch of the missile and the operations room which directed the strike, as well as nighttime footage which showed the impact of the Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missile.

According to al-Manar, Hezbollah’s navy commander “Hajj Jalal” said the rocket was launched from the Beirut suburb of Ouzai after “the Zionist enemy escalated its attacks on various Lebanese areas.”

Adding that the group’s leadership delayed the operation for several hours, Jalal said that the group “could have struck Israel‘s warship SAAR-5 in the 2006 war before it entered Lebanon’s international waters.”

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