Sunday, 16 December, 2018

UN Force Confirms Existence Of Tunnel In Israel Near Lebanon Border

U.N peacekeepers patrol the Lebanese side of the Lebanese Israeli border in the southern village of Kfar Kila Lebanon Tuesday Dec. 4 2018 U.N peacekeepers patrol the Lebanese side of the Lebanese Israeli border in the southern village of Kfar Kila Lebanon Tuesday Dec. 4
Melinda Barton | 08 December, 2018, 22:13

After the Israel Defence Forces recognised the need to deal with the Hezbollah tunnels in 2015, a group of intelligence and army experts suggested a plan to later destroy the tunnels should be prepared.

On Wednesday, UNIFIL held a tripartite meeting with the IDF and Lebanese Armed Forces at which it was decided that the force would send "a technical team to Israel on 6 December to ascertain the facts".

Israel can act with impunity as Lebanon lacks political weight internationally, while any forceful response by the Lebanese Army or Hezbollah in defense of its sovereignty would result in Lebanon being sent back "to the middle ages".

The IDF announced the launch of "Operation Northern Shield" on Tuesday, saying its goal was to "expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah" under the Israel-Lebanon border. Lebanese army forces and UNIFIL troops are on standby in Lebanon.

Hariri said the issue would be taken up with both UN General Secretariat and Security Council, but stressed his government's "commitment to the full obligations of Resolution 1701 and to the ongoing coordination and cooperation between Lebanese authorities and United Nations forces". The Israeli military said it had protectively increased forces along the border and warned Hezbollah to keep its distance from the tunnels. "UNIFIL watches the blue line around the clock and reports all violations of Security Council resolution 1701".

In a meeting with United Nations peacekeepers on Wednesday, Lebanon parliament's speaker Nabih Berri said the Israeli accusation was not based on "any real facts at all".

"For two and a half years, we have been certain that there are tunnels, but the element of surprise was very important to us", the commander stressed Wednesday during a tour of the Metula area where one tunnel was uncovered. "There is an exaggeration in the way it [the operation] was presented, and I hope that does not hurt us", he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attend a ceremony in Jerusalem in 2017
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara

He also asked Iran and its allies to stop taking provocative actions in the region that could threaten Israel.

"Today we have launched Operation Northern Shield".

Livni alleged that part of Netanyahu's thinking was to deflect criticism from residents of southern Israel who say he has failed to quash the threat of cross-border rocket fire from militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara. "Hezbollah and Hamas know this".

Hezbollah has always proclaimed readiness to confront any Zionist adventure and has a strategic capability that can complete the deterrence equation and deter attacks against the enemy.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, told reporters Thursday that the army is now operating in three areas where tunnels have been discovered.