TEL AVIV, Dec 4: Israel has put its forces on the border with Lebanon on a war footing as part of the Northern Shield operation aimed at destroying tunnels of the Hezbollah group.
The Israeli Defence Forces announced on Twitter on Tuesday the start of an operation to 'expose and neutralise cross-border' tunnels that Hezbollah is using to attack Israel from Lebanese territory.
According to the Haaretz news outlet, the Israeli armed forces knew of Hezbollah’s plans dating back to 2006 to construct attack tunnels at points along the Israel-Lebanon frontier in order to conduct attacks against the Jewish state. An attempt to build a tunnel was exposed in 2013, but no construction site was discovered.
The news comes days after Hezbollah posted a video clip threatening to retaliate against Israel in case of the missile attack against the group. The footage features Hezbollah leader Hader Hassan Nasrallah warning IDF: "If you dare attack, you will regret it."
Israel formed a special team aimed to locate the tunnels in 2014. This was followed in 2015 by Israel kicking off a project to create a barrier on the Lebanese border and establish a technology for the neutralisation of the tunnels.
IDF spokesperson Ronen Manelis has said that the construction of Hezbollah tunnels into Israeli territory is ‘proof of a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty’.
‘We see this as a very serious situation that hurts Lebanon and the citizens of Lebanon, and we hold the Lebanese government accountable. We have indisputable proof that the Lebanese government is not in control of their border. Iranian money is all around these tunnels’.
Israeli authorities have consistently called Hezbollah an Iranian "terrorist proxy", stressing that the Jewish state will "continue blocking Iran's attempts to use Syria and Lebanon as its forward bases to launch attacks on Israel".