The IDF announced on Tuesday that it is setting out to neutralize another threat to Israel’s existence: Hezbollah terror tunnels dug into the solid rock that separates northern Israel from Lebanon.

Dubbed Operation Northern Shield, the IDF began the process near the town of Metulla. The goal of the operation is to neutralize the plan that Hezbollah calls “Conquering the Galilee,” a plan that would coordinate massive barrages of hundreds of missiles with border infiltrations carried out by 5,000 specially-trained Hezbollah terrorists.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told the media that several of the tunnels had penetrated into Israeli territory and that the IDF was working to destroy them, emphasizing that the tunnels “are not yet operationally ready” and therefore did not pose an “immediate threat.”

One tunnel was described as being 80 feet underground, six feet wide, six feet tall, and penetrating 130 feet into Israeli territory. The tunnel extended from under a home in southern Lebanon, extending 600 feet through solid rock and penetrating into Israel.

“We see Hezbollah’s actions as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” Conricus said.

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-in_article’); });

The IDF noted that Hezbollah’s plan was in direct violation of UN Resolution 1701 that was set up to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. The resolution established the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, implying Hezbollah. On the same day the resolution passed, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that his militia would honor the call for a ceasefire. Nasrallah also said that once the Israeli offensive stops, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel would stop.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forthright in his praise of the IDF and the necessity of the operation.

“This morning the IDF began Operation Northern Shield, the goal of which is to uncover and neutralize terrorist tunnels from Lebanon,” he said. “We are proud of the fighters and commanders of the IDF for the complex actions and operational successes already in the early stages of the operation. Whoever tries to attack the State of Israel – will pay a heavy price,” he added.

The IDF spokesperson accused Iran of providing the funding and support for Hezbollah’s tunnel program. The IDF encountered Hezbollah tunnels inside Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, though they were used for defensive purposes. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards but has become much stronger since the conflict with Israel.

The IDF’s Arabic language spokesman issued a warning to the Lebanese via Twitter to stay away from the tunnels.

Operation Northern Shield began in the wake of a massive air attack allegedly carried out by the IDF against Iran and Hezbollah military sites inside Syria. Israel has admitted to attacking convoys and warehouses of missiles in Syria en route to Hezbollah. It is now assumed that Iran has turned to shipping military supplies directly to Hezbollah via commercial airliners.

Source: Israel in the News