IDF launches operation “North Shield” on Lebanese-border

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held what was described as “an urgent meeting” last night with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the Belgian capital, Brussels. Prior to his departure from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, the Israeli leader underscored that the meeting would focus on the latest regional-developments, and the challenges the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies pose to Israel on its northern frontier. According to Netanyahu, “I am now leaving for Brussels for an important meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We are in continuous contact with our American friends. I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a series of regional developments as well as the steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north. Of course we will also discuss other issues.” At the beginning of the meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu took the opportunity to thank Secretary Pompeo for his firm statements against the test that Iran carried out last week when it test-fired a ballistic missile that has the capacity of carrying multiple warheads, capable of reaching any country in the Middle East and parts of Europe. While the meeting was scheduled last week, a senior security source informed TV7 that the urgent meeting between Netanyahu and Pompeo was not considered “routine.” Rather, the meeting aimed at delivering an urgent message to Israel’s northern neighbor, Lebanon; in which Jerusalem warned/threatened Beirut to immediately “stop the most recent actions (the Iranian-proxy) Hezbollah has been taking,” or else Israel “will be forced to act (militarily).” The source explained that the latest actions taken by Hezbollah, including its coordinated efforts with Iran to facilitate factories across Lebanon for the purpose of upgrading its vast missile arsenal with sophisticated precision-guided components, was a clear red-line for Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Iranian-backed militia has been actively bolstering its capability of conducting cross-border attacks. In light of a series of fortified defensive barriers, which Israel erected along its borders, Hezbollah dug an extensive tunnels network, which it hoped to use during a future conflict with the Jewish state.

With regard to the latter, the IDF Spokesperson’s unit lifted a news embargo this morning on an IDF Operation dubbed “North Shield,” which began last night, designed to discover and neutralize the cross-border attack tunnels that Hezbollah has dug into Israeli territory. IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis explained that the IDF had detected a large number of tunnels and that the operation to destroy these threats will be conducted on the Israeli side of the border.  Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said, “Right now we are operating within our territory and this fact enables us a wide operational range, on the one hand. On the other hand, one needs to remember, Hezbollah clearly violates (U.N) resolution 1701, it digs from Kila village into Israel’s territory, it builds military infrastructure inside the Shi’ite villages south of the Litani (river). It maintains here an environmental (USING AIR QUOTES) organization which actually constitutes and organization of observations of Hezbollah. It proves to everyone that the Lebanese army and the Lebanese government don’t control the territory, the one who is in control is the Hezbollah terrorist organization.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry instructed its representatives in New York to provide U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations’ security council with a letter protesting Hezbollah’s breach of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559. The letter, which was viewed by TV7, underscored that “Hezbollah acts as Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, undermining regional stability.” The letter accused Hezbollah of building, “following the 2006 second Lebanon war, a broad expansion of its subterranean terror infrastructure,” which – according to the document – is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council 1701.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon levelled a blatant threat to Israel’s northern enemies, not to use Israel’s actions to prevent Hezbollah’s underground tunnel network as a pretext in order to provoke the Jewish state. In stated, “This morning, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) started a military operation in northern Israel. The purpose of this operation is to destroy attack tunnels built by Hezbollah from the territory of Lebanon into the territory of Israel. We act within our rights on sovereign soil of the state of Israel. It must be noted that this activity of Hezbollah, building those attack tunnels is a blatant violation of U.N Security Council (resolution 1701 and it is definitely an act of aggression. Israel will do all it takes in order to protect its citizens and its territory.”

In light of the latest developments, Secretary General Antonia Guterres warned that the tension on the border between Israel and Lebanon was liable to increase. A recent UN report indicated that the lack of agreement between Israel and Lebanon on building a barrier on the northern border was liable to increase tensions in light of ongoing IDF activity south of the border.