Is­rael fires warn­ing shots across north­ern bor­der; new tun­nel found

IDF says who­ever en­ters tun­nel from Lebanese side risks his life

The Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By TOVAH LAZAROFF and ANNA AHRONHEIM

The IDF fired warn­ing shots across the tense Lebanese bor­der to halt an at­tempted in­fil­tra­tion as it dis­cov­ered an­other Hezbol­lah at­tack tun­nel.

It was the first in­stance of gun­fire along the bor­der since the IDF be­gan Op­er­a­tion North­ern Shield last week along the north­ern bor­der to de­stroy Hezbol­lah tun­nels.

In an in­ter­view with Fox & Friends Week­end, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said the Hezbol­lah tun­nels were part of Iran’s plan to de­stroy Is­rael.

Tehran wants to use its prox­ies, prin­ci­pally Hezbol­lah, “to be the for­ward arm to at­tack Is­rael with a goal of de­stroy­ing it,” he said. “As part of that Hezbol­lah is build­ing ter­ror tun­nels un­der Is­rael’s ter­ri­tory. We’ve known that for sev­eral years, and a few days ago we tore the mask off, un­cov­ered the first stone, and we’re go­ing to un­cover the rest, and ba­si­cally deprive Iran of this weapon of ag­gres­sion.”

Af­ter the IDF pub­lished in­for­ma­tion on an­other tun­nel, the lo­ca­tion of which has not yet been made known, Ne­tanyahu lauded their work on Satur­day night.

“The IDF and the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment are con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate in the North with great suc­cess. They are sys­tem­at­i­cally and de­ci­sively elim­i­nat­ing Hezbol­lah’s tun­nels,” he said. “This op­er­a­tion is just be­gin­ning. Equa­nim­ity and pa­tience are re­quired. We will con­tinue to work un­til it is com­pleted. This is what we will do.”

Ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary, ter­ror­ists be­long­ing to the Shi’ite ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tion were work­ing on the tun­nel just hours be­fore it was found on Satur­day. How­ever, it posed no threat to Is­raeli res­i­dents.

“Who­ever en­ters the tun­nel from the Lebanese side risks his life,” IDF Spokesman Brig.Gen. Ro­nen Manelis said.

On Satur­day, troops spot­ted three sus­pi­cious fig­ures ap­proach­ing the bor­der area where the IDF was car­ry­ing out tun­nel ex­ca­va­tion work, he said.

“The troops opened fire on the sus­pects as per the rules of

en­gage­ment,” Manelis said, ex­plain­ing that the men who had taken ad­van­tage of the bad weather to steal IDF equip­ment, fled the area.

The IDF be­lieves the three sus­pects could be­long to Hezbol­lah, but ac­cord­ing to Le­banon’s Na­tional News Agency, the IDF opened fire on a Lebanese army pa­trol “be­cause of heavy fog in the area.”

The IDF said it only plans to op­er­ate against the Hezbol­lah at­tack tun­nels on the Is­raeli side of the bor­der, but Le­banon fears that Is­rael won’t be bound by that lim­i­ta­tion and may also op­er­ate against the tun­nels in south­ern Le­banon.

On Fri­day, In­tel­li­gence Min­is­ter Is­rael Katz, who is also a mem­ber of the se­cu­rity cab­i­net, ap­peared to in­di­cate that Is­rael could con­sider mil­i­tary ac­tion in Lebanese ter­ri­tory if nec­es­sary.

“If we think that in or­der to thwart the tun­nels one needs to op­er­ate on the other side – then we will op­er­ate on the other side of the bor­der,” Katz told Ra­dio Tel Aviv 102FM.

On Thurs­day, the IDF pub­lished in­for­ma­tion on the Shi’ite Lebanese vil­lage oRamya, and pro­vided the United Na­tions In­terim Force in Le­banon with the data, ask­ing the group to de­mol­ish the tun­nel on the Lebanese side. How­ever, an IDF spokesper­son later clar­i­fied that the army has not un­cov­ered the tun­nel’s en­trance on the Is­raeli side so far.

An­other tun­nel, which the IDF ex­posed on Tues­day, led from Kafr Kila into Is­rael. A third tun­nel has been iden­ti­fied, but its lo­ca­tion has not been pub­li­cized.

On Thurs­day, Lebanese Am­bas­sador to the UN Amal Mu­dal­lali sent a let­ter to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, in which she warned that Is­rael planned to at­tack her coun­try as part of Op­er­a­tion North­ern Shield.

In the let­ter to the UNSC, which was pub­lished by Is­rael on Fri­day, Mu­dal­lali said Is­rael has al­ready “breached the Lebanese com­mu­ni­ca­tions grid by hack­ing into the tele­phone net­work and send­ing recorded mes­sages to peace­able civil­ian in­hab­i­tants of the south­ern part of the vil­lage of Kafr Kila, warn­ing them of im­mi­nent ex­plo­sions to take place on Lebanese ter­ri­tory that might put their lives at risk.

“This con­sti­tutes a new and ex­tremely se­ri­ous at­tack on the se­cu­rity and safety of the cit­i­zens of Le­banon, whereby Is­rael is vi­o­lat­ing the dig­nity and pri­vacy of in­di­vid­u­als and mak­ing a di­rect threat against their lives,” the en­voy said.

She also ac­cused Is­rael of vi­o­lat­ing Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701, which set out the cease­fire terms that ended the Sec­ond Le­banon War in 2006. Even be­fore the tun­nel op­er­a­tion, the en­voy said, Is­rael rou­tinely vi­o­lated Lebanese airspace, some­thing that is pro­hib­ited un­der Res­o­lu­tion 1701.

A re­port by UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res’s of­fice ear­lier this month said there has been an in­crease in Is­raeli ae­rial ac­tiv­ity over Le­banon. His of­fice ac­cused both sides of vi­o­lat­ing the res­o­lu­tion.

The Lebanese en­voy called on the UNSC to “take all mea­sures nec­es­sary to con­front this sys­tem­atic cam­paign be­ing waged by Is­rael and Is­rael’s on­go­ing vi­o­la­tions of Lebanese sovereignty, which are a threat to the se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity of the en­tire re­gion.”

Is­rael’s Am­bas­sador to the UN Danny Danon said: “The Lebanese gov­ern­ment, un­der whose rule Hezbol­lah has es­tab­lished an un­der­ground net­work of mis­siles and has dug tun­nels en­ter­ing into Is­rael, is hyp­o­crit­i­cally seek­ing to con­demn Is­rael, which is work­ing to de­fend its cit­i­zens.

“Is­rael calls on the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to con­vene as soon as pos­si­ble to dis­cuss the ac­tual vi­o­la­tions of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701, as clearly re­vealed this week in Op­er­a­tion North­ern Shield. In the up­com­ing de­bate, we will present con­clu­sive ev­i­dence of Hezbol­lah’s vi­o­la­tions and the will­ful blind­ness of the Lebanese gov­ern­ment,” Danon said.

Reuters con­trib­uted to this re­port. •

(IDF)

IDF SOL­DIERS work to un­cover an­other Hezbol­lah cross-bor­der tun­nel on Fri­day.

(Ro­nen Zvu­lun/Reuters)

AN IDF SOL­DIER guards near the bor­der with Le­banon last week.

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