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Israel launches operation to counter Hezbollah's border tunnels

FILE – In September 5, 2018, an Israeli soldier is standing near a wall at the border between Israel and…

The Israeli military launched an operation on Tuesday to “expose and weaken” tunnels built by the military group Hezbollah that stretches from Lebanon to northern Israel.

The tunnels are not operational, the military said and added that its work to find and neutralize them took place within Israeli territory. However, the operation could send tensions between Israel and its Iranian-backed enemy, both of which have been occupied with other conflicts since their last persecution for more than a decade ago.

“We see Hezbollah’s activity as a flagrant and obvious violation of Israeli sovereignty,” said Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman. “This activity is another example of the negative effects of Iranian anchoring in the region.”

The military did not reveal how many tunnels snakes to Israeli territory from Lebanon, how long the operation should go, or what tools it used to deal with the threat. It has spent years trying to address a network of tunnels that snatch from the Gaza Strip to Israel and have used a variety of methods to destroy tunnels and prevent them from being rebuilt.

Conricus said that Hezbollah has developed an offensive plan against Israel that would “move the battlefield to Israel.” The group would use firepower and land units and “the surprise component in the plan would be tunnels that would allow infiltrators in Israel”.

He added that Israel has investigated the possibility of subway in Hezbollah since 2013 and launched a task force that has been working in the past two years to search for them. He did not explain why the operation was launched now.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 which ended in a deadlock. Israel’s borders with Lebanon have been relatively quiet the years since, but Israel has continued to identify the Shiite militant group and its growing weapon cache of tens of thousands of rockets as a major threat.

The Israeli operation began hours after the Israeli Prime Minister, Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held a short trip to Brussels to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where the two discussed “ways to stop Iranian aggression in the region”, including in Lebanon.

Although attention has been diverted to violent protests along the border with Gaza in recent months, Israel’s main security problem in the north is along the Lebanon border.

Israeli officials have long warned of the threat posed by Gaza’s Hamas ruler in comparison with Lebanon’s Iran-baked Hezbollah – a heavily armed mini-army with valuable combat experience and an arsenal of about 150,000 rockets that can reach almost all parts of Israel.

Hezbollah m At the same time, it has also been distracted by the war in Syria, where it has fought strongly with President Bashar Assad’s troops. With Syria’s civil war wound up, Hezbollah is now relieved to re-establish in Lebanon and focus on Israel.

Neither side seems interesting, nevertheless, in another full-fledged confrontation like the Monthly War of 2006, but any bunch could kick an all-out conflict along the tense boundary.

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