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IDF says exposed Hezbollah tunnel far larger than Hamas tunnels in Gaza

05 December 2018

The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield on Tuesday morning to expose and neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border.

The military said the tunnels were not yet operational, but posed "an imminent threat" to Israeli civilians and constituted "a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty".

During that war, the armed Shia group was able to overwhelm Israel's ground invasion of southern Lebanon and strike military and civilian targets, undermining internal Israeli support for the war and spurring regional support for Hezbollah's military successes against a state army.

Last year, Hezbollah's leader said any future conflict with Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, and there would be "no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters".

The military has used various means to collapse or fill in tunnels from the Gaza Strip.

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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 accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of launching the military operation along the Lebanese border in order to distract from his domestic woes.

He said that the operation would not cross the border into Lebanon.

"The surprise component of that plan was supposed to be tunnels that would allow infiltrators into Israel", he said.

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

What's next: Nasrallah is expected to give a speech in Lebanon this evening in response to the Israeli operation.

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Israel's security cabinet was set to convene to discuss the situation in the north at the defense ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv at 7:30 p.m. local time, as the IDF said it was preparing for a "protracted" operation at the Lebanese border.

The military said in a statement it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios".

Netanyahu has pledged to stop arch-foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria and to keep it from transferring advanced weapons to its ally Hizbullah in Lebanon.

The last major conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Northern residents have raised fears in recent years of attack tunnels being dug under the border, spurring the IDF to launch a task force to investigate the concerns in 2014.

Russian Federation subsequently upgraded Syrian air defences with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus had said last month would make Israel "think carefully" before carrying out further air raids.

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IDF says exposed Hezbollah tunnel far larger than Hamas tunnels in Gaza