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)
Three days ago, the IDF announced that its effort to find and destroy Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnels was coming to an end, after a sixth such underground passage had been the discovered and was being destroyed.
This was the biggest and most sophisticated of all six tunnels, one that stretched half a mile inside Lebanon and a few dozen meters into Israel, some eight football fields long in total. This was one with height and width, carved out at a depth of 55 meters (180 feet) making it the deepest of the tunnels uncovered by the IDF. Inside was a terrorist’s lair, with electricity, a railway to move equipment and garbage, exit stairs along the route, and other aspects that made it more sophisticated than the others, and likely the most valuable one to Hezbollah.
What were those Hezbollah tunnels built for? Is there any doubt that they were to be used in the next war with Israel?
“Their goal has been to penetrate our territory, to kidnap our people, including civilians, murder civilians and conquer the northern piece of the Galilee,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a briefing last month along the border after inspecting the military operation. “This is not merely an act of aggression; it is an act of war.”
If this “act” of war becomes part of a sustained activity, everyone knows what comes next: all-out war. Israel will defend itself and bomb over and under all locations engaged in that Third Lebanon War, targeting the missile launch sites that emanate alongside homes in the small Lebanese villages short kilometers north of the border.
In those villages – Hezbollah uses “every third house in southern Lebanon,” Netanyahu said – are Lebanese grandmothers playing with their grandchildren, sitting over an entranceway to a tunnel. There are hospitals, supermarkets and schools. All are being used to cover Hezbollah terrorist activity and all will be fair targets in a future war. The photographs of the casualties will be on page 1 in every newspaper in the world, and the UN Security Council will meet to condemn Israeli aggression.
Then the Security Council will meet. Not today, when the blatant evidence of these acts of war being perpetrated along Israel’s sovereign border is being ignored. Only then.
It is shameful that the United Nations, and almost every country in the world, is not speaking out against these self-evident truths: the tunnels were a new underground frontier to be used by the Shi’ite terrorist group to infiltrate fighters, as an opening salvo in a future war accompanying the launching of rockets, missiles and mortar shells. As Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said when he helicoptered to the North last month to view the IDF work, Hezbollah did not dig tunnels that breach Israeli territory in order to “go shopping.”
To its great credit, the United States is one country that has spoken out. On Monday in Beirut, after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale condemned Hezbollah.
“While Lebanon has the right to defend itself, that is the right of the Lebanese state alone,” Hale said. “It is unacceptable to have a militia outside the control of the state, and unanswerable to all people of Lebanon, digging attack tunnels across the blue line to Israel or assembling an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles with which to threaten regional stability.”
The northern border with Lebanon has the potential to become the next theater of war. Thousands of Hezbollah guerillas were sent to Syria in 2013 to fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now that Assad’s forces have emerged victorious, the guerillas have returned and attention turns to the Israel-Lebanon border.
“The people of Lebanon have to understand that Hezbollah is putting them in jeopardy, and we expect Lebanon to take action against this, to protest against this, not to give in to this,” Netanyahu said. “And the fact that the Lebanese army is doing nothing means that they are either unable, or unwilling, or both.”
The IDF says it “is monitoring and is in possession of a number of sites where Hezbollah is digging underground infrastructure that has yet to cross into Israeli territory.”
The world has an opportunity to speak up and work to prevent the Third Lebanon War. We don’t understand what everyone is waiting for.
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