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Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels

Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels”

Israel's military said on Tuesday it was beginning an operation to "expose and thwart" cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon dug by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israel military spokesman, said they were aware of a number of tunnels crossing into Israel from Lebanon to the north, and that the army would only be operating within Israel and not crossing the border.

It said the army had "enhanced its presence and readiness" and was prepared for "various scenarios".

Conricus said that Hezbollah has been developing an offensive plan against Israel that would "shift the battleground into Israel".

The operation comes hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a last- minute trip to Brussels to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Dubbed Operation Northern Shiled, it was announced by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Twitter, with video footage of heavy machinery boring in unidentified locations.

Since then, Hezbollah has become one of the main supporting actors in the war in Syria and tensions with Israel have remained high.

Why are Israel and Hezbollah enemies?

The resolution reiterates the UNSC's strong support for full respect for the Blue Line, the border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations in 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon.

In a tweet, Israeli military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the Lebanese government is responsible for the build-up of the tunnels, saying they are endangering Lebanese citizens.

The tunnels are concentrated in the area around Metula, a small Israeli town of around 1,000 people nestled against the border with Lebanon.

IDF officials estimated the operation would last for a few weeks, but a response from Hezbollah could prolong it further. The area is a closed military zone with no civilians told to evauate.

By September 2018 Israel completed 11 kilometers of a concrete barrier along its border with Lebanon created to protect Israeli communities from Hezbollah infiltrations. Israel has spent years attempting to tackle a network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel and has used a variety of methods to destroy tunnels and prevent them from being rebuilt.

Israel has significantly stepped up its defenses along the Lebanese border, out of concern that Hezbollah will emerge more battle-hardened from its costly involvement in the civil war in Syria.



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