The Israeli military launched a new offensive overnight Monday to “expose and thwart” terror tunnels constructed by Hezbollah that stretch from Lebanon into northern Israel.
“We see Hezbollah’s activities as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” said Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman.
The mission is called “Operation Northern Shield” and seeks to completely neutralize any tunnels that pose a security threat to the Jewish state. The IDF did not disclose how many tunnels there are or how long the operation would last. While the military says the tunnels are not operational, Lt. Conricus believes they are evidence of an even bigger threat to Israel – Iran.
“This activity is another example of the negative effects of Iranian entrenchment in the region,” Lt. Conricus said.
Iran funds Hezbollah’s terror efforts against Israel.
Lt. Conricus said Hezbollah, aided by Iran, has been developing a plan against Israel that would “shift the battleground into Israel.” The Shiite group would use firepower and “the surprise component” of terror tunnels to ‘allow infiltrators into Israel. “
The IDF investigated the possibility of terror tunnels from Lebanon into Israel since 2013. The military launched a task force and has been hunting down the tunnels for two years.
The military is prepared for any escalation with Hezbollah that could stem from this operation.
Israel and the Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate. Israel’s border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet in the years since, but Israel is wary of the group’s expanding weapons cache and close ties with Iran.
Meanwhile, Israel has spent years attempting to destroy a network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Operation Northern Shield began hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels. The two leaders discussed “ways to halt together Iranian aggression in the region,” including in Lebanon.