Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

The Israeli army said on Tuesday it had detected Hezbollah tunnels infiltrating its territory from Lebanon and had launched an operation to cut them off.

Since then, the movement has helped the national army retake the occupied regions from Tel Aviv and thwart two Israeli acts of aggression in 2000 and 2006.

The latest operation comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, where he was reported to have been updated on the anti-tunnel action.

The tunnels are concentrated in the area around Metula, a small Israeli town of around 1,000 people nestled against the border with Lebanon. An Israeli military source said the operation might take weeks to complete. But the operation could send tensions soaring between Israel and its Iranian-backed foe, who have both been preoccupied with other conflicts since their last conflagration more than a decade ago.

Malene Jensen, spokeswoman for the United Nations force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL, said the situation in the peacekeepers' "area of operation remains calm" and that they are in touch with all relevant parties to make sure calm and stability is maintained.

"UNIFIL is liaising with all relevant interlocutors to ensure that the parties use the UNIFIL liaison and coordination mechanisms to maintain the continued calm and stability", she said.

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The IDF added that it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios".

All operations would take place within Israeli territory, Conricus said, though it still raised the risk of a response from Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group with which Israel fought a devastating war in 2006.

In September, INetanyahu identified three locations in Lebanon where, he said, Hezbollah was converting "inaccurate projectiles" into precision-guided missiles. I know what to do and when to do it.

He said an upcoming security challenge would require Israelis to "endure sacrifice".

The ministry said Iran was funding Hezbollah using money "billions of dollars it received as part of the nuclear deal", referring to the 2015 accord that lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on nuclear activity.

The tunnels, and the need for an operation to uncover and destroy them, was known to the Security Cabinet when it convened on November 13 and chose to accept a ceasefire with Hamas and not launch a larger offensive against the Gaza Strip following the firing of nearly 500 rockets into Israel.

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