Israel launches operation near Lebanese border against ‘Hezbollah tunnels’
Lebanese online news portal Tayyar reported that the Israeli army was excavating areas opposite the Lebanese villages of Kfarkela and Adaisseh on the southern border.
Conricus, however, said the tunnels “are not yet operationally ready” and therefore did not pose an “immediate threat.”
He claimed that Hezbollah has been developing an offensive plan that would “shift the battleground into Israel.”
Hezbollah would use firepower and ground units and “the surprise component of that plan was supposed to be tunnels that would allow infiltrators into Israel,” he claimed.
According to unnamed Israeli officials, the operation would likely “take weeks.”
Separately, last night, the Israeli prime minister travelled to Brussels unexpectedly to talk to the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, briefing him on the operation that started on Tuesday morning.
The Israeli army reportedly deployed tanks and con- struction vehicles near the Lebanese frontier around midnight on Monday.
Israeli military spokesperson Avichay Adraee said the Lebanese government was responsible for the buildup of the tunnels.
Lebanese media also said forces with the United Nations peacekeeping force, known as UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon), monitored the Israeli operations, and that the Lebanese army did routine patrols in the surrounding towns.
In a statement on Tuesday carried by the state-run National News Agency, a UNIFIL official said the situation in the area was calm.
The resistance movement Hezbollah was formed following the Israeli regime’s invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing occupation of its southern parts in the 1980s, and currently constitutes Lebanon’s de facto military power.
Since then, the movement has helped the national army retake the occupied regions from Tel Aviv and thwart two Israeli acts of aggression in 2000 and 2006.
The movement has also been playing a significant role in the Syrian army’s fight against Takfiri terrorist groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ Daesh) and al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), thus preventing the spillover of the war into Lebanon.
Hezbollah is also a powerful political party in Lebanon. The movement and its allies currently hold over half of parliamentary seats in the country.
Since the end of the 2006 war, Israeli forces have regularly violated Lebanon’s sovereignty, with the regime’s officials threatening another military offensive against the country.
Hezbollah has repeatedly warned Tel Aviv against launching a new war, vowing a crushing response to any such attempt.