The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) yesterday destroyed a tunnel built by Hezbollah that extended 40m under Israeli territory.
The tunnel began in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kala and was described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty and a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701”. The Israeli Prime Minister warned Lebanese citizens that Hezbollah’s actions were placing their lives “in danger in order to serve the wishes of Iran.”
The tunnel was uncovered as part of ‘Operation Northern Shield’, and according to Israeli officials began under a home in a civilian neighbourhood of Kafr Kala. The IDF says it expects the tunnel to be the “first of what are sure to be many” tunnels dug by Hezbollah. According to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Operation Northern Shield is a pre-emptive mission, launched before such tunnels could represent an “immediate and direct threat to northern communities and army bases”.
While there are no signs yet of retaliation from Hezbollah, the Israeli army has sent reinforcements to northern Israel as a precaution. A Hezbollah official described the Netanyahu government as being “in crisis” and accused the Prime Minister of using the operation to distract from political and legal troubles at home. Questions have also been raised within Israel about the timing of the operation, after the police recommended on Sunday that the Prime Minister be indicted on charges of bribery and fraud related to Case 4,000. Military sources have however confirmed the the operation had been planned for some time and was authorised by the Israeli security cabinet while Avigdor Lieberman was still Defence Minister.
Lebanese President, Michel Aoun said in a statement that Lebanese armed forces and security agencies are closely monitoring the Israeli operation. This was affirmed by the Lebanese army, which said it was “closely” following developments and was “prepared to confront any sudden occurrence”.