by: Kate Norman
Friday, 11 January 2019 | Hezbollah had big plans for the five terror tunnels that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) discovered coming into Israeli territory, two of which had crossed the border before they were found and neutralized.
The terror group operating in Lebanon formulated “what they thought was a fantastic plan, with several tunnels [entering Israel under the border] from the Metula area to the sea, and their intention was to launch an attack that would begin with a surprise attack from underground—sending 1,000 to 1,500 fighters into our side,” said outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
Lt.-Gen. Eisenkot, who will officially step down from his position on Tuesday after a four-year term, said in an interview on Hadashot TV news that Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy terror group in Lebanon, “had grandiose notions. They were looking many years ahead, to a war or wide escalation, where they [believed they] would have a surprise, an ace in their deck.”
The outgoing chief said the surprise attack Hezbollah had planned for its tunnels would “throw Israel off balance and cause an earthquake in Israeli society.” Hezbollah’s goal for the ambush, Eisenkot said, was to showcase Israel’s frailty.
“They planned a massive artillery bombardment of IDF bases,” Eisenkot said. “[They aimed to] gain control of a piece of Israeli territory and hold it for weeks.”
The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield on December 4 to detect and destroy terror tunnels Hezbollah had been building to infiltrate and attack Israel. Since beginning the operation, the IDF has found and destroyed five terror tunnels.
“This operation is mostly behind us,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said after touring the northern territory on December 25 with the Security Cabinet and undergoing a briefing from Eisenkot and Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick. “There has been exceptional work here to deny Hezbollah the tunnels weapon. It has invested greatly in this and we have destroyed it.”
Eisenkot echoed that sentiment and said most of the passages into Israeli territory had been found and that he believed Operation Northern Shield would be completed in the “near future.” However, the Times of Israel reported that a senior officer told journalists on a visit to the northern border that the army viewed the operation as an open-ended effort.
“We are not restricted by time. It can take days, weeks, months,” the Times quoted the officer. “We will find all of them [the terror tunnels].”
Shortly after the launch of Operation Northern Shield in December, Netanyahu asserted that the terror tunnels were built with funding and support from Iran.
“They were built with one purpose in mind—to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children,” Netanyahu said. “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.”
UN Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 conflict with Lebanon and set stipulations to maintain a cease-fire. It prohibited the presence of any armed personnel or weapons in southern Lebanon other than the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
UNIFIL forces conducted an independent investigation in December and confirmed the existence of the tunnels and that two crossed the border into Israel. The UN force acknowledged that the tunnels directly violated Resolution 1701 but failed to confirm that they were Hezbollah’s handiwork.
A UN Security council met at the end of December to discuss the terror tunnels but concluded the meeting without taking any concrete action, failing to condemn Hezbollah for violating the resolution that the UN itself established.
After studying the tunnels, the IDF began the process of neutralizing them on December 20, setting off explosives and filling the tunnels with cement.
Eisenkot said in the Hadashot interview that Hezbollah’s tunnel project is over, “but not their goal to capture parts of the Galilee.”
Posted on January 11, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 11, 2019)
Photo Credit: CNN/YouTube/Screenshot
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