The IDF announced on Sunday that it was wrapping up “Operation Northern Shield”, the operation to detect and neutralize Hezbollah cross-border terrorist tunnels, but first publicized their discovery of a sixth tunnel on Shabbos, originating in the village of Ramyeh, in Lebanon.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said Sunday the final tunnel was the largest discovered so far, running hundreds of meters (yards) from under a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory.
Conricus said the latest tunnel originated from the Lebanese border town of Ramyeh, was 55 meters deep and ran 800 meters inside Lebanese territory and also “dozens” of meters into Israel. It included stairs, a rail system and a wide a passageway that allowed for the movement of equipment and a large number of forces.
The tunnel would be destroyed in the coming days, Conricus said, adding that while more tunnels still existed on the Lebanese side of the border, this effectively marked the end of the ambitious military operation.
“We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve,” he said. “According to our intelligence, there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels into Israel.”
Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a cease-fire resolution that ended a devastating war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006. Conricus said the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNIFIL, was updated on the latest development.
In the wake of the tunnel discoveries, Israel has asked the international community to impose tough sanctions on Hezbollah and launch action against its state-within-a-state operation in Lebanon. The military said its forces would stay deployed along the border to monitor for any other possible underground activity, and said it holds the Lebanese government responsible for everything happening within its territory.
The powerful Shiite Hezbollah group, which acts independently in Lebanon, has yet to comment on the tunnels.
The detection of the tunnels has resulted in a serious blow to Hezbollah, which planned to use these underground tunnels to launch surprise attacks against civilians and security authorities alike, by crossing into northern Israel undetected via the tunnels.
At the start of the operation, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the tunnel work was detected by the military years ago, and the operation would most likely last for a number of weeks, until such time all of the tunnels are detected and they will be rendered inoperable by the IDF when Israel is ready for that phase of the operation.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)