by: Kate Norman
Monday, 14 January 2019 | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the conclusion of Operation Northern Shield on Sunday after the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) announced earlier that they had exposed the sixth and final Hezbollah tunnel from Lebanon into Israel.
“The IDF has exposed a sixth tunnel—the largest of all—that crossed into Israeli territory,” Netanyahu said. “This brings Operation Northern Shield to a successful close. We will continue to monitor all activity by Hezbollah, and by Iran and its proxies. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure the security of Israel.”
The IDF launched the defensive operation on December 4 to find and destroy cross-border tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. The Jewish state has asserted from the beginning that the tunnels were the work of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy operating in southern Lebanon, but also blamed Lebanon for either looking the other way or directly participating in the offensive on Israeli sovereignty. The discovery of the sixth tunnel on Sunday, which the IDF said it will neutralize within the next few days, marked the successful conclusion of Northern Shield.
In an interview last week on Hadashot TV, Lt-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot described “what they [Hezbollah] thought was a fantastic plan” to send 1,000 to 1,500 fighters through the cross-border tunnels into Israel in a surprise attack to take control of a piece of Israeli territory and showcase the Jewish state’s frailty. The attack plan, which was outlined on Arab media a few years ago, was named “Conquering the Galilee.”
“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,” Eisenkot said.
Northern Shield ruined Hezbollah’s surprise attack, the IDF asserted.
“Operation Northern Shield deprived Hezbollah of the unique offensive abilities it had built for years as part of its planned attack on Israeli territory,” the IDF said in its statement announcing the end of the operation. “Denying Hezbollah this ability harmed the terrorist organization’s ability to carry out its plans while also improving the security situation in the northern arena and removing a threat from Israeli citizens.”
The IDF revealed that the sixth tunnel was dug 180 feet (55 m.) deep, ran 2,624 feet (800 m.) through Lebanon and “dozens of yards” into Israel. This was the largest tunnel and the third that crossed into Israeli territory.
“This #Hezbollah attack tunnel was dug from the Lebanese village of Ramyeh into Israel & will be neutralized soon. We have now exposed all attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel,” the IDF posted on its Twitter page.
IDF Spokesman Ronen Manelis told reporters the tunnel was “highly advanced,” equipped with railway tracks, electricity, lighting and ladders to enter Israeli territory.
“A lot of resources were invested in this tunnel,” Manelis said.
The military asserted that it will continue monitoring Hezbollah activity near the border.
“In addition, troops and the tunnel-finding laboratory will continue serving permanently along the Lebanese border,” the army said in a statement. “The IDF is determined to protect the citizens of Israel and will continue to operate in the area and to monitor possible underground activity.”
The army said the IDF will build a defensive barrier along the Lebanese border when the two remaining tunnels have been destroyed, Ynetnews reported. The first four tunnels were neutralized with explosives and concrete-filling.
Though the threat of the terror tunnels has been eliminated, danger looms on the border as long as Hezbollah maintains its stronghold in southern Lebanon. Israel has asserted that the terror organization has an estimated 130,000 projectiles ready to fire into Israel with the ability to reach anywhere within the Jewish state.
When asked whether northern Israelis can now live in peace, Netanyahu responded, “I think that everyone understands that a very serious threat was averted here.
“Hezbollah’s operational plan was to use the tunnels weapon to infiltrate many fighters, between 1,000–2,000 terrorists, into the Galilee, to seize communities here,” the prime minister continued. “Everyone understands how the war would look if Hezbollah battalions were in the Galilee, and with the Iranian army opposite the Golan Heights. We have prevented this—and we will continue to prevent it.”
Posted on January 14, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 14, 2019)
Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces@IDF/twitter.com
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