A senior officer in the Israeli military's Northern Command told reporters Wednesday that the army knows about all cross-border Hezbollah tunnels into Israel and will attack all of them.
"There is no tunnel that we don't know about. We are aware of the entire project and we will attack them all in the coming weeks," the officer said, referring to the operation the military launched Tuesday against Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The Israeli military launched an operation on Tuesday to destroy Hezbollah attack tunnels crossing into Israel from Lebanon. The tunnels were found over the past several years, and according to the army, are part of Hezbollah’s “Conquest of the Galilee” plan, to take place at the launch of a war against Israel.
According to military estimates, Hezbollah was planning on using the tunnels during a war in order to smuggle small forces into Israeli territory so that they could ambush IDF convoys and hurt civilians. "The forces that were meant to come out on the other end of the tunnel were supposed to aid the rest of the Hezbollah forces to enter Israel overground," an officer involved in the tunnel demolition operation said.
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The officer added that the military used non-lethal weapons - a stun grenade - against the Hezbollah operative seen in a video released by the IDF "carrying a bomb" in order "to prevent escalation."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday evening that the Israeli military's operation to destroy cross-border tunnels constructed by Hezbollah "will continue until all its objectives are reached."
"This is not a limited operation, it is a broad and ongoing operation," Netanyahu said. He added that Hezbollah's intention was to infiltrate into Israeli territory, with the single purpose "to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children." The prime minister added that the tunnels are "part of a broader regional operation led by Iran."
Earlier in the day, the premier said: "Whoever tries to harm the State of Israel will pay a heavy price," adding that Israel "is operating divisively and responsibly on all fronts simultaneously. We will continue with further actions – public and clandestine – in order to safeguard the security of Israel."
The military said it has been aware since 2006 that Hezbollah was trying to construct attack tunnels stretching from Lebanon into Israel at several points along the border. Since then, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has spoken of a plan to take over parts of the Galilee, in northern Israel, in a future conflict.
Military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that the Israeli army possesses the plans for Hezbollah's "defensive measures and residents of the north can feel safe. We spoke to regional council and municipality heads before the operation began. I told them to continue as usual."
Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri said in a meeting with U.N. peacekeepers on Wednesday that Israel provided no evidence of cross-border attack tunnels.
"This (Israeli accusation) is not based on any real facts at all," Ali Bazzi, a lawmaker from Beri's parliamentary bloc cited the speaker as saying after a meeting.
rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, Belgium on Monday. The two discussed ways to "work together to block Iranian agression in the region - in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon." The heads of the Mossad and the National Security Council, as well as Netanyahu's military secretary, also attended the meeting.
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