Israel launches operation to destroy Hezbollah tunnels


However, the Israeli operation could heighten tensions between Israel and its Iran-backed foe, which have both been preoccupied with other conflicts since their last conflagration more than a decade ago. "This activity is another example of the negative effects of Iranian entrenchment in the region".

Within a few hours of the original announcement, the IDF said it had located a tunnel in Kfar Kela near Metulla, which sits right on the Lebanese border.

The interior of what Israel says is an attack tunnel dug by the Hezbollah terror group that crossed into Israeli territory from south of the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila, December 4, 2018.

Some areas near the border fence had been closed off. It accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of launching the military operation along the Lebanese border in order to distract from his domestic woes.

Additional IDF troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists were called up.

"The surprise component of that plan was supposed to be tunnels that would allow infiltrators into Israel", he said. On its Twitter account, the Lebanese army said its forces were "closely" following developments and were "totally prepared to confront any sudden occurrence". He adds that military officials are urging people to go about their business as normal, saying the tunnels are not in use.

Netanyahu said he had planned to discuss with Pompeo "steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north", referring to Syria and Lebanon.

"Whoever tries to harm Israel will pay a heavy price", Netanyahu said in a statement after returning to Israel early in the morning.

There was no immediate comment from Hezbollah and its Al-Manar TV did not make any mention of the Israeli operation.

According to two senior regional intelligence sources, the area where the incident is said to have occurred is where Hezbollah has its communications and logistics hub for southern Syria near the Israeli border.

The Lebanese army is ready for any developments on the border with Israel making efforts together with the United Nations forces to maintain stability in the area, the army said in a statement. "The command pointed out that the army was ready for any emergency situations", the statement noted.

Since the end of the 2006 war, Israeli forces have regularly violated Lebanon's sovereignty, with the regime's officials threatening another military offensive against the Arab country. Israel's border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet in the years since, but Israel has continued to identify the Shiite militant group and its expanding weapons cache of tens of thousands of rockets as a major threat.