A month-long operation by the Israel Defense Forces ended this week along Israel’s northern border where forces identified and destroyed terror tunnel routes leading into the country, IDF forces revealed.
The military operation, known as Operation Defensive Shield, identified and then destroyed terror routes which were tunneled under Lebanon into Israel by Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a Muslim terrorist organization and considered the forward-fighting force of Iran.
With the discovery of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed, IDF
These tunnels reveal the true nature of the relationship between Israel and its northern neighbor.
According to the IDF, the longest Hezbollah tunnel was nearly 3000 feet long and 180 feet deep. Iran provides Hezbollah with nearly a billion USD annually. Each of the terror tunnels cost several million to build. The tunnel discovered and destroyed on Jan. 13 was the largest and most sophisticated: it had a rail system for moving equipment and garbage, stairs and electric lights.
“With the discovery of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed. The neutralization of this passage will be completed in the coming days,” the IDF said in a statement.
“According to our intelligence and our assessment of the situation there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels from Lebanon into Israel,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.
Operation Defensive Shield began on Dec. 4, 2018. With the ferreting out and detonation of the sixth and final Hezbollah terror tunnel into Israel on Sunday, Jan. 13, the operation came to a close.
The terror tunnels were initially discovered when Israelis living in the north of the country heard digging sounds underground.
Hezbollah Refers To Israel As “Little Satan”
The 80-plus mile border separating Israel and its northern neighbor, Lebanon, has long been a contentious strip of land. There have been two wars between Israel and Hezbollah, embedded in Lebanon, the most recent, in 2006, which ended with U.N. Resolution 1701. That Resolution designates southern Lebanon as off-limits to armed actors and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon or the U.N. peacekeeping force, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, like its patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran, proudly boasts its goal is to eliminate the Jewish state, which it refers to as the “Little Satan,” and then move on to the “Great Satan,” the United States. The “death” of both nations is Hezbollah’s cherished goal. With the discovery of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed.
Hezbollah was founded by Iranian militants following the Islamic Revolution. The purpose of the new organization was to battle and defeat western influence in the Middle East, while exporting its own radical Islamist ideology. In addition to supplying most of Hezbollah’s funding, Iran also provides it with weapons and training and leadership directly responsible for specific Hezbollah units, all of which is prohibited by U.N. Resolution 1701.
Hezbollah has approximately 130,000 missiles in southern Lebanon
The terror tunnels were initially discovered when Israelis living in the north of the country heard digging sounds underground, according to reports. The IDF was already familiar with terror tunnels from their use by Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza, which borders Israel’s southwest. Hamas is another acknowledged terrorist entity determined to destroy the Jewish State. Until Israel began destroying Hamas’s tunnels, they had been used to infiltrate into Israel and murder and capture Israelis.
The IDF established a laboratory made up of soldiers from technology and intelligence units to investigate the digging sounds reported by Israelis, based on a similar laboratory investigating Hamas tunnels in southern Israel. Seismic sensors and radar systems were used to locate the tunnels.
Hezbollah has approximately 130,000 missiles in southern Lebanon, trained for firing into Israel’s civilian population during the next outbreak of hostilities. Israeli intelligence reveals that more than one in three civilian Lebanese homes along the Israeli border are fitted-out by Hezbollah with terrorism capabilities, including weapons caches, observation posts and subterranean combat units.
The terror tunnels are the domain of Hezbollah’s special “Radwan Force,” the members of which were intended to emerge from the terror tunnels in order to “infiltrate towns, carry out widespread massacres on the residents” and capture, then smuggle out other Israelis to be held captive as leverage for bargaining, the IDF described in a special report. This two-pronged plan of widespread death and destruction for Israel is referred to by Hezbollah as “Occupation of the Galilee.”
On Dec. 4, the first day of Operation Defensive Shield, Israel exposed and destroyed a tunnel extending from Lebanon more than 220 yards into Israel, which ended under the Israeli town of Metula. The tunnel originated under a private home in Lebanon.
This two-pronged plan of widespread death and destruction for Israel is referred to by Hezbollah as “Occupation of the Galilee.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to his nation that evening. In addition to declaring Israel’s right to do all it can to protect its citizens, he said: “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.”
The second tunnel was revealed on Dec. 6. This terror pathway began in the Lebanese border town of Ramyah. The IDF destroyed this tunnel, as it did the next four tunnels, all of which originated in Lebanon and crossed under the “Blue Line” separating Israel and Lebanon.
Concern Grows Amid Evidence of More Unfinished Hezbollah Tunnels
In a dramatic display of irrefutable evidence, the IDF flooded one of the tunnels with cement, by pouring the liquified material into the Israeli end. The slow-but-steady moving river of cement came pouring out of the Lebanese end of the tunnel, and was captured on videotape.
Despite the optimism, it is acknowledged that Hezbollah has additional underground tunnels which have not yet been extended under Israel’s border.
Hezbollah operates with nearly a free hand in Lebanon, especially since it began placing large numbers of its operatives as members of the Lebanese government over the past year. This makes it especially difficult for UNIFIL to operate as an effective peacekeeping force.
The discovery of the tunnels, and the film and photographic evidence produced by the IDF forced even UNIFIL to acknowledge the existence of the international law-violating cross-border tunnels.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, said Monday in Lebanon, “It is unacceptable to have a militia outside the control of the state, and unanswerable to all people of Lebanon digging attack tunnels across the blue line to Israel or assembling an arsenal of over 100,000 missiles with which to threaten regional stability.”
Hale was there to meet with the incoming Lebanese Prime Minister Saas al-Hariri.
Even in the face of this international condemnation, however, neither UNIFIL nor the Lebanese government have taken steps to remove or even reduce Hezbollah’s military presence. Moreover, Hezbollah’s vast weapons caches and intelligence-gathering material, which is stockpiled among civilian facilities in southern Lebanon continue to exist without repercussions.