Is­rael launches op­er­a­tion near Le­banese bor­der against ‘Hezbol­lah tun­nels’

Tehran Times - - WORLD IN FOCUS -

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.

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