Israel fires warning shots across northern border; new tunnel found
IDF says whoever enters tunnel from Lebanese side risks his life
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 SOLDIERS work to uncover another Hezbollah cross-border tunnel on Friday.
AN IDF SOLDIER guards near the border with Lebanon last week.