Israel tells Lebanon and United Nations peacekeepers to destroy attack tunnel

Clay Curtis
December 7, 2018

In a statement on Thursday, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said it "visited a location near Metula in northern Israel" and "can confirm the existence of a tunnel at the location".

On Thursday, the the IDF revealed the identity of a Hezbollah operative caught on camera in one of the cross-border attack tunnels.

Some in Lebanon have questioned the IDF's tunnel claims despite a number of images and footage released by Israel purportedly documenting the sophisticated 6-by-6-foot underground passageway. He explained that after tunnels dug by Hamas were discovered in southern Israel, the country's northern residents realized that it was possible that they would face the same threat one day.

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the tunnels have likely been in the works for some time, and hint at preparation for larger Hezbollah operations against Israel.

"I told the ambassadors that they need to unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, by Hezbollah and by Hamas, and of course, to also strengthen the sanctions against these elements", Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu noted that Israel had demanded the convening of a UN Security Council meeting on the matter, which he called an "important political and diplomatic step that complements our operational and engineering effort to deny Hezbollah and Iran the tunnels weapon".

"The Israelis have clearly been planning this for months, which means that Hezbollah must have been working on these tunnels for years before they were detected and Israel planned its response", said one senior US official who works on Israel issues but was not authorized to speak on the record about the tense situation.

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Col. Jonathan Conricus stated: "The tunnel from Ramia that crosses into Israel does not constitute an immediate threat". Gen. Yoel Strick slammed Hezbollah for violating UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

The IDF says it has been tracking Hezbollah's attack tunnels since 2014 and expects to find and destroy several more in a campaign that will last weeks to months. Gen. Stefano Del Col, encouraged both sides to reduce "the high level of rhetoric", avoid misunderstandings, and ensure that security and stability along the United Nations -drawn Blue Line "is maintained and reinforced", United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in NY.

UNIFIL said in its statement it was "engaged with the parties to pursue urgent follow-up action".

According to Conricus, earlier Thursday Israel provided UNIFIL's commander with a map and data regarding the newly-uncovered tunnel.

Strick, the IDF said, asked for UNIFIL to "ensure the neutralization of the tunnel on the Lebanese side" of the border.

The IDF has announced only that it has located a single tunnel that began in the southern Lebanese city of Kfar Kila and extended some 130 feet into Israeli territory. "These tunnels could explode".

"Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger because of digging tunnels", said the Arabic audio message, which appeared to have been sent by Israel.

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