Monday, 18 March, 2019

Israel says it has completed hunt for Hezbollah tunnels from Lebanon

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the defense ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv ‘We struck thousands of targets’: IDF chief of staff on Israel’s ‘near-daily’ strikes in Syria
Steven Clarke | 14 January, 2019, 08:40

He said this entailed "hundreds" of attacks over the past several years of Syria's civil war, in which Iran and Hezbollah have backed Damascus against rebels and Islamist insurgents.

But recently Israel has spoken publicly about thwarting the weapons smuggling into Lebanon and Mr Netanyahu had said "we are committed more than ever to act against Iran in Syria".

"According to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel". While they have at times traded blows within Syria and the occupied Golan Heights, the Israel-Lebanon border has mostly been quiet.

It was 55 metres deep and ran 800 metres inside Lebanese territory and also "dozens" of metres into Israel, he said.

The last tunnel will be destroyed in the coming days.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel carried out an air raid on Iranian weapons in Syria over the weekend, a rare public confirmation of such attacks.

Hezbollah has not commented on the tunnels, the existence of several of which was confirmed by United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon. "We yet have much work to do and we will do it", Netanyahu said.

Israel launched Operation Northern Shield early last month to detect and destroy what it called a vast network of Hezbollah tunnels aimed at helping militants sneak across the border to carry out attacks.

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With the sixth Hezbollah tunnel discovered Saturday afternoon, Israel declared victory and announced the completion of Operation Northern Shield on Sunday.

Conricus said there were no more tunnels reaching Israel from Lebanon but the army was still monitoring "facilities" being dug by Hezbollah within Lebanese territory.

Israel alleges Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill its civilians or soldiers, and to seize a slice of Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.

The highly publicised Israeli operation to expose and destroy the tunnels has gone ahead without drawing a military response from Hezbollah.

Outgoing IDF chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot appeared at his final cabinet meeting, ending a four-year term and 40-year army career.

The powerful Shiite militant Hezbollah, which acts independently in Lebanon, has yet to comment on the Israeli discoveries.

Lebanese officials however held talks on Sunday with US Under Secretary of State David Hale that included discussion of the border area, statements from both sides said.

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