Operation Northern Shield: IDF strikes Hezbollah terror tunnels

Operation Northern Shield: IDF strikes Hezbollah terror tunnels

After discovering the secret underground routes, the army live-streamed a video feed from the site, with IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus speaking in front of Israel's "blue line" border wall.

Israel has launched an operation to destroy tunnels built by Hezbollah across the border from southern Lebanon, the military announced early Tuesday. Israel said the tunnel originated under a house around the Lebanese village of Kfar Kela and crossed the border near Israel's northernmost town, Metula.

In September, a senior Israeli official said his country had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Since then, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has touted plans to take over parts of Galilee in northern Israel in a future conflict.

No details were given about how detected tunnels would be put out of use.

US backup: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a short visit to Brussels on Monday.

The Israel Defense Forces says it's now working to destroy the tunnels.

The Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila is seen behind the barrier wall as Israeli army personnel and heavy machinery work on the Israeli side of the border in Israel's northernmost town Metula early morning

All operations would take place within Israeli territory, Conricus said, though they still raised the risk of a response from Hezbollah.

"There is no immediate threat to Israeli citizens", Conricus said of the Lebanese front, noting that while the army has enhanced its presence in the north, it has not summoned reserve soldiers. "The army command is ready to confront any emergency", it said. "The tunnel extended from under a home in southern Lebanon, extending 600 feet through solid rock and penetrating into Israel", the report said.

Over the course of that war, Israel has targeted alleged Syrian and Hezbollah arms convoys on multiple occasions in an attempt to block any Iranian efforts to transfer weapons to the group.

Since their last fought war in 2006, Hezbollah has strengthened its military capabilities significantly with an estimated arsenal of some 100,000 and 120,000 short-and medium-range missiles and rockets, as well as several hundred long-range missiles trained on the Jewish State.

The operation comes weeks after Netanyahu faced a major crisis in his governing coalition over the handling of a cease-fire with Gaza militants. Northern residents have raised fears in recent years of attack tunnels being dug under the border, spurring the IDF to launch a task force to investigate the concerns in 2014.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, has also been heavily engaged in Syria, where it is battling alongside government forces.

Why it matters: The last Lebanon war in 2006 was similarly sparked by a confrontation between Israel and the Iran-backed Shiite militia on the border. With Syria's civil war winding down, Hezbollah is now free to return its focus to Israel.

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