Israel today launched an attack on Lebanon in a bid to destroy what it claims are Hezbollah tunnels channelled under the Israel-Lebanon border.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that a cross-border tunnel dug by Hezbollah into Israeli territory and exposed Tuesday as part of a large-scale operation against subterranean passageways from Lebanon is significantly larger that those tunnels dug by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli military digger works on the border with Lebanon in Metula on Tuesday.
Later the military specified it had located one such tunnel dug from a home in the area of Kafr Kela in southern Lebanon that crossed into its territory and was working to "neutralise" it.
A Lebanese military official told The Associated Press that Lebanese troops and military intelligence agents, along with United Nations peacekeepers deployed in southern Lebanon, were observing the border on Tuesday.
Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said Hezbollah is under the direction of Iran. He adds that military officials are urging people to go about their business as normal, saying the tunnels are not in use.
The surprise announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels over regional dangers, with both having repeatedly warned over the activities of Iran, Israel's main enemy.
It later published a photograph of a tunnel that it said it had uncovered.
There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah. While the construction has prompted complaints from the Lebanese army, Hezbollah has not responded, an indication it could remain restrained amid the new operation.
It said the army had boosted its presence and readiness and was prepared for "various scenarios". "The command pointed out that the army was ready for any emergency situations", the statement noted. Manelis said the Lebanese Armed Forces is not capable of controlling what occurs in southern Lebanon. Israel's border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet in the years since, but Israel views the Shiite militant group and its rockets as a major threat.
It began when Hezbollah militants launched a raid into Israel, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others, who also died.
There has been increased attention in Israel in recent days over Israeli officials' concerns regarding Iranian activity in Lebanon.
Since the start of that war, more than 200 strikes were carried out by Israel according to its military.
Before his departure, Netanyahu hinted at the Israel operation. With Syria's civil war winding down, Hezbollah is now free to return its focus to Israel.
Neither side appears interested quite yet in another full-fledged confrontation like the 2006 war, but any skirmish could spark an all-out conflict along the tense border.
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