The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced yesterday that it has discovered a third Hezbollah tunnel crossing into Israeli territory.
The IDF refused to identify the location of the third tunnel, but Lebanese media reported that the tunnel is near Kibbutz Yiftah, in the Upper Galilee. IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the tunnel has been “booby-trapped by the IDF, and anyone entering it from the Lebanese side puts his life at risk.” Manelis addd, “The Lebanese government is responsible for the digging of tunnels from Lebanese territory. This constitutes an egregious violation of Resolution 1701 and the State of Israel’s sovereignty.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said: “We certainly took this issue seriously – the presence of tunnels at the border – and Israel informed us via the United States that it does not have aggressive intentions and it will continue to work on its (territory)”.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Now we have uncovered the third tunnel, we are systematically dismantling the tunnel weapon. What matters most is the preparation we have here, both in terms of morale and material, to retaliate very strongly if Hezbollah makes the big mistake of deciding to attack us or resist the action that we have undertaken. Hezbollah will take a hit that it cannot even imagine.” The Prime Minister continued: “Hezbollah thought it was digging uninterrupted. We knew about it and planned it and it didn’t leak. We’re carrying out exactly what we planned, but we are also prepared for setbacks.”
The United States has declined Israel’s request to impose sanctions on Lebanon and the Lebanese army. Prime Minister Netanyahu asked for the sanctions when he met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last week. US officials said that despite Israel’s right to defend itself, the problem is Hezbollah, not the state of Lebanon. Therefore, sanctions should be against the organisation directly. Washington made clear that the United States and Lebanon have close military ties and has no interest in undermining them.