Israeli Soldiers Fire at Suspected Hezbollah Operatives Approaching Lebanon Border

Israeli army says three suspects took advantage of the stormy weather to try to reach the area where the IDF is dismantling Hezbollah terror tunnels

Israeli troops at the Israel-Lebanon border, December 5, 2018.
Gil Eliyahu

Israeli troops fired on Saturday afternoon towards suspects who approached from Lebanon in the direction of sites where the Israel Defense Forces are working on destroying Hezbollah attack tunnels as part of Operation Northern Shield that was launched in the beginning of the week. 

Soldiers identified three suspects approaching north of the border fence, along the fence's eastern part. The suspects passed the international border (known as the Blue Line) but did not breach the actual border fence. 

According to Israeli army assessments, the three were Hezbollah operatives who tried to reach the area where the IDF is dismantling tunnels, while taking advantage of the stormy weather. "Troops fired towards the suspects following fire procedures. The three fled, and work [to dismantle the tunnels] continues," the Israeli army spokesperson's unit said in a statement.

>> Hezbollah's attack tunnels prove Nasrallah has cracked Israel's DNA | Analysis ■ A Hezbollah Blitzkrieg: Tunnels of Israel-Lebanon border reveal attack plan | Analysis ■ Tunnel demolition operation: Hezbollah is in no hurry to battle Israel <<

Earlier Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and updated him on the details of Operation Northern Shield and Israel's continuing intention to foil the tunnels threat.

The two agreed that security delegations from the two countries will meet soon and that a meeting between the leaders would be coordinated.

Netanyahu reiterated Israel's policy to prevent the establishment of an Iranian presence in Syria and to act against Iranian and Hezbollah aggression.

Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, Belgium, last week. 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.

The Israeli army announced the discovery of Hezbollah attack tunnels on Tuesday morning, saying it has started destroying them.

On Thursday afternoon, the army announced that it had discovered another tunnel dug by Hezbollah and has asked the United Nations to help efforts to destroy it.

The commander of the Israeli army's Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, asked the commander of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, on Thursday to assist in neutralizing an attack tunnel being dug from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

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.