Israel Begins Work Along Lebanese Border to Detect Hezbollah Tunnels

Laying tunnel detection equipment was months in the planning, IDF says, and does not point to new Hezbollah tunnels detected

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An Israeli soldier with equipment at the Lebanese border.
An Israeli soldier with equipment at the Lebanese border. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The Israeli military began on Sunday laying equipment designed to detect the presence of underground tunnels along the Lebanese border, the Israeli army said.

In December 2018, Israel launched a military operation, dubbed Northern Shield, in which Hezbollah tunnels running across the border were destroyed.

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The tunnels were an important strategic asset, part of an offensive plan to in which special units would have infiltrated deep into the Galilee, while commando forces crossed above ground, Israeli intelligence said at the time.

According to Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, the IDF has no new information on the existence of additional tunnels penetrating Israel.

He said the current operation had been planned for several months, and Sunday's announcement was only intended to prevent misunderstandings with Lebanon, and to allay possible concerns among Israeli citizens living near where the works are being carried out.

Machinery used to lay tunnel-detecting equipment at the Israel-Lebanon border.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The engineers plan to drill deep into the earth and place sensors to detect seismic movements and sonic fluctuations that would accompany any tunnel excavation work. Zilberman said more systems may be deployed in other areas along the border as well, according to IDF assessments of the situation.

The Israeli military's Northern Command has not felt it necessary to reinforce its presence along the border fence due to the work, which it doesn’t expect should cause any further friction.

Israel is building a barrier along the border with Gaza, part underground wall and part above ground fence, in order to prevent tunnels from being dug underneath. The project, which will cost an estimated three billion shekels ($878 million), is expected to be completed by summer 2020. The steps being taken in the north are relatively more limited in scope, and are focused in one area, aimed at installing a technological infrastructure, and not at constructing any physical barriers.

Defense walls will continue to go up along the Lebanese border, in areas seen as vulnerable to above-ground infiltrations. Such work has already been carried out between Metula and Misgav Am, close to the Golan Heights, and in the Rosh Hanikra area on the coast. It will continue in Misgav Am, near Moshav Shtula, and in other spots along the border.  

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