A third cross-border attack tunnel, which was dug by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, was located on the northern Israeli-border with Lebanon – extending from Lebanese territory to an area in the Upper Galilee, not far from Kibbutz Yiftah. The IDF spokesperson’s unit released a statement in which it warned “anyone who enters (the tunnel) from the Lebanese side is putting their lives at risk,” as the Israeli military booby-trapped the underground passage. The IDF further stated that it views the Lebanese government as “responsible for the digging of the tunnels from Lebanese territory,” which “constitutes an egregious violation of (UN Security Council) Resolution 1701,” as well as the sovereignty of the state of Israel.” While the unveiling of the third cross-border attack tunnel substantiated the significance of Hezbollah’s subterranean-passage-network, the Israeli military emphasized that “IDF troops will continue to act according to the organized plan that was authorized to keep locating and exposing terror tunnels.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also acts – among others – as Israel’s Defense Minister, held a security situation assessment in the IDF Northern Command with Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot and additional senior military commanders. Netanyahu was given a review of the progress that has been made in Operation “Northern Shield” and military’s activities in the sector and preparedness for a potential violent conflagration with Hezbollah and its patron Iran – in both Lebanon and Syria. The Israeli top leader said: “I’m impressed by the spirit that exists here, before anything else. There are also results. We unveiled now that we located a third tunnel, we are dismantling methodically the tunnel-weapon, but the most impressive element is the (military) preparedness that exists here, both in spirit and equipment for a very-powerful-response if Hezbollah would make a big mistake of deciding, in any form, to harm us or to resist the operation that we are doing. It (Hezbollah) will sustain blows that they cannot even imagine. And the most important element, is the spirit of the commanders and fighters, that is strong and persevering. They are well prepared.” Prime Minister Netanyahu underlined that Jerusalem know of Hezbollah’s efforts to establish a broad subterranean cross-border attack network – aspiring to take Israel by surprise in a next potential war. Nevertheless, the top Israeli defense official revealed, that Jerusalem was well aware of Hezbollah’s activities, which were kept a secret until a cohesive plan was formed to deal with the growing threat. In his words, “We knew. We prepared. (The information) did not leak. You can ask yourselves, how did (the information) not leak to you. It did not leak. We kept it (information on the tunnels) a secret, we prepared (the operation) meticulously. We are implementing exactly what we planned for. But we are also prepared for unexpected developments. There is here present a significant fire-power.” / “Imagine what would have happened in the past. Imagine what would have happened if we did not locate this threat. Imagine about if, during a rainy and foggy day, Hezbollah would have arrived through these tunnels, kidnapped our people. Think about the situation Israel could have found itself in, with campaigns of murder and kidnappings by Hezbollah in our territory – something that did not exist since 1948. Imagine to yourselves what could have happen and understand the significance of this step.” Netanyahu also noted that an Israeli military delegation left for Moscow to “explain the operation we are conducting here. It will clarify unequivocally that Israel reserves its right, and what I also call the obligation, to act against the establishment of Iranian forces in Syria and of Hezbollah in Syria, as well as of Iran’s proxies in their attempt to dig tunnels under our [the Israeli] border.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also took the opportunity to relay a threat to Hezbollah and its patron Iran, not to test Israel’s power on the country’s northern frontier. He said, “I assess that Hezbollah understands that we are well prepared for any of (Hezbollah’s) potential responses. I think that (Hezbollah) assess that we have a significant force here, facing it. I tell you right now that they (Hezbollah’s) are very gracious in their assessment.”
Meanwhile in Beirut, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been trying to calm situation. Speaking at a press conference with visiting Austrian foreign minister Karin Kneissl, the Lebanese President said that Israel had conveyed a message via the United States saying that it had no belligerent intentions and that it would continue to operate primarily within its own territory. President Aoun further stressed that Lebanon was committed to implementing Security Council Resolution 1701 and was awaiting the results of a United Nations investigation on the ground.