Operation Northern Shield: What You Need to Know

December 6, 2018

by: Kate Norman

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Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot (center), assesses the situation at the Lebanon border. 

Thursday, 6 December 2018 | Early Tuesday morning, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and destroy tunnels that the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah has been digging from southern Lebanon into Israel as part of its offensive operation, “Conquering the Galilee”.

An anonymous senior IDF officer told the Times of Israel that the terror tunnels were built with dark intentions: infiltrating the northern Israeli city of Metula, just across the border from Lebanon, to cut it off from the rest of Israel and start a war.

“Conquering the Galilee” is an offensive Hezbollah operation that involves infiltrating Israel with over 5,000 fighters—likely from Hezbollah’s Radwan unit, which was established seven years ago to fight Israel—to do as much damage as possible to Israel and its civilians.

“It’s a terrible reality,” said Michael Mazeika, a resident of Metula, in an exclusive interview with the Tower. “Not a lot of people in the world have to deal with the fact that there is a terrorist group less than a hundred meters away from them trying to dig tunnels into their bedrooms.”

The first tunnel exposed—just south of Kafr Kila, a village in southern Lebanon—extended from a civilian home and went over 600 feet (183 m.) through solid rock to reach 130 feet (40 m.) into Israeli territory, the IDF said.

“The terror tunnel that was exposed [Tuesday] was built under a home in a civilian neighborhood in southern Lebanon,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement. “Now, this is just one more example of how Hezbollah is committing a double war crime. They target civilians while hiding behind civilians. And this must be condemned loudly and clearly by all nations that care about peace, freedom and human dignity.”

The IDF is using seismic sensors and other technology to expose and destroy the tunnels, a process that military leaders estimate will take a few weeks to complete.

“There are some places we know more about, and some that we know less about,” the anonymous IDF Northern Command senior officer told the Times of Israel on Wednesday. “But we have the means to see through the operation to the end—to find and destroy them all [the terror tunnels].”

He stressed that the tunnels did not pose immediate danger. “None of the tunnels was ready for war tomorrow. In some cases, it was a matter of months and in other it was a matter of years before they’d be operationally ready,” the officer said.

Hezbollah has been monitoring, photographing and publishing the IDF’s activity on the border in order to establish that the terror organization knows what the Israeli military is up to. The Iranian-backed terrorists have also taken and shared photographs of the IDF’s operations in two other locations: Ramiya—north of the Israeli community of Zarit—and Meiss al-Jabal, west of Israeli kibbutz Kfar Blum.

“These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “They were built with one purpose in mind—to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children. This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”

United Nations Resolution 1701, which calmed the last major conflict between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, set several stipulations in order for both sides to maintain a cease-fire, including: respecting the Blue Line (the border between Israel and Lebanon established by the UN in 2000) and prohibiting the presence of any armed personnel or weapons other than those of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

“Hezbollah is armed, present and is using the civilian infrastructure, houses and other facilities that we are going to expose in southern Lebanon for their military purposes, so there is an abundance—a litany—of violations of UN Resolution 1701,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus in a video statement.

The IDF asserted that Hezbollah used Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon—another stipulation of Resolution 1701—in order to infiltrate southern Lebanon, build military compounds and weapons warehouses in the heart of the civilian population, store weapons in civilians’ homes, stockpile over 130,000 rockets and missiles, build bunkers and bases in southern Lebanon and establish a strong presence that intermingles with the Lebanese government and military.

“Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran’s efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel.”

Posted on December 6, 2018

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 6, 2018)

Photo Credit: IDF blog/idf.il