METULA, Israel — Dec 5, 2018, 8:04 PM ET

Netanyahu launches military operation to destroy 'cross-border terror tunnels' from Lebanon to Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to update him on the details of a military operation that will destroy cross-border tunnels between Israel and Lebanon, according to a statement released by his office.

Netanyahu launched the open-ended Israeli military operation, known as Operation Northern Shield, to destroy what he called "cross-border terror tunnels" that stretch from Lebanon into Israeli territory. He accused Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based militant Shiite group, of digging the tunnels along the northern border to attack Israeli civilians and to capture parts of the Galilee in a future conflict.

On the first day of Operation Northern Shield, the Israeli Army said it destroyed a Hezbollah terror tunnel from the Lebanese village of Kafr Kiya that reached 120 feet inside Israel, near the town of Metullah.

PHOTO: Israeli soldiers are seen from the village of Kfar Kila, in south Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018. Aziz Taher/Reuters
Israeli soldiers are seen from the village of Kfar Kila, in south Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018.

In his call with Guterres, Netanyahu’s office said he urged the UN Chief to strongly condemn Hezbollah for violating Israel’s sovereignty and the ceasefire reached in UN Security Council Resolution #1701. He called Hezbollah’s tunnels, “part of Iran’s aggression in the region.”

Netanyahu also urged Guterres to galvanize the international community to demand that more sanctions be imposed on Hezbollah. Earlier in the week, the Israeli leader said that he asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to consider slapping new U.S. sanctions on the Iranian proxy.

Netanyahu’s appeal to the UN Chief came as the Israel Defense Forces held a prescheduled meeting with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and representatives of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Both monitor the border between Israel and Lebanon, known as the Blue Line. In a statement, the IDF said it “presented the uncovered Hezbollah attack tunnel that had been dug from Lebanon to Israel.”

The statement came after reports of Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri saying that the IDF had not given information about the tunnels.

PHOTO: An Israeli M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System is near the Northen Israeli kibbutz of Yiftah near the border with Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018.Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images
An Israeli M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System is near the Northen Israeli kibbutz of Yiftah near the border with Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018.

Some in Lebanon have questioned the IDF’s tunnel claims despite a number of images and footage released by Israel purportedly documenting the sophisticated 6-by-6-foot underground passageway.

Hezbollah has not directly responded to the Israeli allegations or its military operation.

The IDF says it has been tracking Hezbollah’s attack tunnels since 2014 and expects to find and destroy several more in a campaign that will last weeks to months.

In Metullah, residents seemed unfazed by the increased military presence in their small town, which sits just a half-mile from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

“I’m not worried,” said Leora Razklien, a 35-year-old who was born in Metullah. “I’m confident in the army, in the guys who serve to protect us.”

But some residents, like 30-year-old Issac Lipman, expressed anger that the IDF was only addressing the tunnel problem now.

PHOTO: Israeli soldiers gather by an army vehicle at the Lebanon-Israel border wall near the site of an Israeli excavation site for reported cross-border Hezbollah-dug tunnels, Dec. 5, 2018.Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images
Israeli soldiers gather by an army vehicle at the Lebanon-Israel border wall near the site of an Israeli excavation site for reported cross-border Hezbollah-dug tunnels, Dec. 5, 2018.

“There were reports for years that people here heard digging and construction late at night. They told the IDF about it. So why did it take so long?” he said.

One possible answer? A Senior Military official who asked to remain unnamed said it took many years for the IDF to develop the technology to detect the suspected Hezbollah tunnel burrowed in limestone rocks and cliffs.

News - Netanyahu launches military operation to destroy 'cross-border terror tunnels' from Lebanon to Israel

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  • lag

    Simple countermeasure - When a tunnel is detected, covertly insert movement/sound detectors and a remotely controlled mine. Blow it up when activity is detected.

  • Sam Willughby

    Good destroy them all hopefully with your enemy in them kudos

  • cephalo

    These guys should start a boring company. These guys build more tunnels than anyone.

  • murray

    U build 'em, we destroy 'em.
    there must be better use of talent and resources on both sides that would benefit people.

  • SFprogressive

    Bibi to Donald: Oy vey Don, I'm sorry I'm ruining your argument about 30 foot high walls with these damn tunnels the Arabs used on us, But you'll tell your base that your undcomented are too dumb to know about this,

  • Just Watching

    Why did it take so long to destroy the tunnels?
    I for one take some joy at letting them spend all that money, time and effort before destroying it.