NORTHERN SHIELD: IDF launches operation to destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels from Lebanon into Israel
CLEARED FOR PUBLICATION – The IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield” to expose and neutralize cross-border terror tunnels dug by Lebanon’s Hezbollah into northern Israel, the IDF announced on Tuesday.
“The digging of tunnels constitutes a blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” said IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis.
It is unclear, however, how many tunnels snake into Israeli territory from Lebanon or how long the operation would last.
The IDF said that it had “enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios.”
Some areas near the border fence had been closed off.
The operation comes hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a last- minute trip to Brussels to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The IDF has been aware since 2006 that Hezbollah was seeking to build terror tunnels stretching into Israel at several points along the border. Since then, Hezbollah terror group chief Hassan Nasrallah has spoken of a plan to conquer the Galilee.
In 2013, the IDF discovered that Hezbollah was attempting to begin construction of the tunnels but could not locate any.
In 2014, the IDF decided to form a special team to locate these tunnels, and in 2015 began a project to build a barrier along the Lebanese border, creating a technological infrastructure that is the basis of Operation Northern Shield, and destroy the tunnels.
The IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis said, “the fact that Hezbollah has tunnels crossing the border into Israeli territory is proof of a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty. We see this as a very serious situation that hurts Lebanon and the citizens of Lebanon, and we hold the Lebanese government accountable. We have indisputable proof that the Lebanese government is not in control of their border. Iranian money is behind these tunnels.”
According to Manelis, the IDF troops along the border have been reinforced, “We are in full control of the situation and are determined to remove the underground Hezbollah threat from the northern border. The tunnels do cross into Israeli territory, but the work on them was not complete.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has issued a sweeping ban on government ministers to be interviewed by the media on Operation Northern Shield against Hezbollah terror tunnels.