Israel launches operation to cut off Hezbollah infiltration tunnels

Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

The attack tunnels have always been rumored to have been dug from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory by the Iran backed terror group, but Israeli defense officials repeatedly either denied their existence or refused to discuss it.

It is unclear how many tunnels snake into Israeli territory from Lebanon, but the IDF stressed they were not operational and that work to expose them was taking place in Israeli territory and without crossing the border.

The military had also enhanced its readiness along the border, the spokesman said.

"We see Hizbollah's activities as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty and it again proves Hizbollah's complete disregard for United Nations resolutions", said Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman.

Additional troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists were called up.

It was not immediately clear why the army launched the operation now, but it came as tensions on Israel's northern border have ramped up in recent days and hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Brussels for a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss Iran and security challenges on Israel's northern border, likely referring to Hezbollah.

Israeli army spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said the "attack tunnels" detected were not yet operational.

An Israeli military source said the operation might take weeks to complete.

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Hezbollah is supported by the majority of the Shiite population in Lebanon.

Israel, meanwhile, gave no special orders to residents of northern Israel, signaling that it too was not expecting an immediate response from Hezbollah. An Israeli government source said the meeting was to update Pompeo of the upcoming tunnel operation.

Bulldozers and military vehicles were seen operating near the pastoral Israeli border town of Metula on Tuesday.

Israel views the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its vast weapons cache as a major threat.

"The IDF will increase its forces in the Northern Command and is highly prepared for developments, if any", the announcement concludes, noting that "a number of areas near the security fence in the north of the country were declared a closed military zone".

Israel also faces terror tunnels in the south from the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate.

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