Israeli-Lebanese border seemingly calm despite IDF operation

The Israeli-Lebanese border appeared calm today, a day after Israel announced a wide-scale operation – dubbed: Northern-Shield – to “expose and thwart” cross-border attack tunnels from its northern neighbor, which were dug by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. During a televised press conference to the nation from Jerusalem, the Israeli military’s spokesman Ronen Manelis provided visual intelligence of a tunnel that was exposed by the IDF, which revealed the “tip of the iceberg” of Hezbollah’s use of civilian structures for military purposes. According to the IDF Spokesman “The tunnel, which is hidden under in the civilian structure, circled in red, served as a private block factory until 2014. Located only a few meters away, as you can see, from a UNIFIL stand [United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon] and from UNIFIL patrol, whose mission is to enforce [UN Security Council] resolution 1701. The tunnel originates from this structure, goes under the blue line [the border between Israel and Lebanon] and ends about 40 meters into Israeli territory. Our tracking of this structure since 2014 shows that the civil activity within it has decreased while the military activity within it has increased. Within the framework of military characteristics observed, we spotted abnormal activity disguised as civilian activity of cars and trucks transferring dirt from the structure to nearby land in kfar Kila. They are transferring the dirt dug up in the construction of the tunnel. Hezbollah is attempting to present this activity as civilian activity and to hide it, from us [Israel], the Lebanese people as well as from UNIFIL.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that the scope of Hezbollah’s operational-determination that was not previously seen, with a clear intension by the Iranian-backed organization to conduct cross-border attacks for the purpose of conquering parts of northern Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister said, “Hezbollah’s intention was to use these tunnels to Infiltrate Israeli territory and sneak terrorist into Israel. And one must understand that this is also part of a large-scale operation that they have planned at the aim of capturing part of the Galilee.  This is a real threat, in its scale, intensity and even in its audacity… a threat unlike what we have seen before.” He underscored that the Hezbollah operation is part of a broad network of both regional and global activities that is directed and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran. “At the same time, I must say that this action is part of the regional and global terror and aggression network directed and funded by Iran. Now, as you know, we are working very hard to prevent Iran’s military buildup in Syria, and I can tell you that our actions have already led to a decrease of tens of percent’s in the number of Iranian forces in Syria. But of course, we are also working against Iran’s terrorist branch in Lebanon,” Netanyahu said. The Israeli leader further stressed that the Israeli military operation, on the country’s northern frontier, will be only part of an extensive operational effort that will take an extended period of time – as long as it is needed to fulfill its operational goals. In his words, “Under my guidance and with the approval of the Cabinet, the IDF launched Operation “North Shield” in order to thwart the threat of terror tunnels along the Lebanese border. The operation is widescale and will continue as long as necessary to achieve all of its goals.” While Prime Minister Netanyahu assured the citizens of Israel of successfully tackling the security threats from Israel’s northern enemies; he also took the opportunity to call upon the international community, in English, to condemn the aggressive actions and methods undertaken by the Iranian proxy: “They were built with one purpose in mind – to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children. This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”/ “Now, this is just one more example of how Hezbollah is committing a double war crime. They target civilians while hiding behind civilians. And this must be condemned loudly and clearly by all nations that care about peace, freedom and human dignity.” Netanyahu also took the opportunity to send a clear message to the peoples of Lebanon, in which he warned of grave repercussions for the actions Hezbollah is taking against the Jewish state, “I have a message for the people of Lebanon: Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger. They are sacrificing your wellbeing to serve the aggressive purposes of Iran. Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for all terror activity emanating from Lebanon against Israel. Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself. We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran’s efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel.”