Lebanese Media: Israeli Reports on Hezbollah Tunnels Are a Propaganda Tool

Lebanese media sources say that Operation Northern Shield is an attempt to distract from domestic tension and Gaza failure ■ UNIFIL attempting to preserve calm and stability along Israel-Lebanon border

Lebanese soldiers at a lookout point on the Israel-Lebanon border, November 25, 2018.
Rami Shllush

Hezbollah has yet to release a formal response to the launching of the Israeli operation on Monday night aimed at destroying Hezbollah-built cross-border tunnels. Reports in Lebanon said the Israeli announcement was an attempt to draw attention from Israeli domestic issues.

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The Lebanese army command issued a statement saying that the situation in Lebanon is calm and stable. "Units of the Lebanese Army deployed in the area are carrying out their work normally along the border barrier and are monitoring events. The Lebanese Army is prepared for any scenario."

The Israeli military announced on Tuesday that it has launched an operation to destroy tunnels constructed by Hezbollah that  cross the Lebanese border into Israel. The construction of the tunnels is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis told Army Radio on Tuesday.

The discussion on Lebanese websites focused more on the nature of the Israeli reports than on the actual activity at the border. A Lebanese source close to Hezbollah who spoke to Haaretz by phone characterized the Israeli reports as a propaganda effort to draw attention away from domestic issues and to justify the Israeli military mishap in Gaza last month.

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"In Lebanon, we believe in the balance of deterrence created by Hezbollah, so we aren't afraid of any Israeli operations or activities, as long as they stay on the Israeli side of the border," the source said.

40 meters (130 feet) inside Israel

Media outlets in Lebanon quoted on an official in Hezbollah's political bureau, Hassan Hoballah, who said that the days when Israel could simply attack Lebanon are over, even though the initiative to attack is in Israel's hands. The resistance forces are capable of blocking any Israeli attack and can attack the Israeli enemy in turn, he said.

Hoballah, who did not specify the number of troops the group had, said that the forces in the field are on a constant state of alert and surveillance, and are assessing the situation. Hezbollah's course of action will depend on developments in the field, he added.

The Hezbollah television station Al-Manar quoted the spokesperson of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as saying that UNIFIL is attemping to maintain quiet and stability in the region. The UNIFIL spokesperson said that the United Nations is in contact with all relevant forces and authorities and hope that all sides can maintain peace with the help of international peacekeepers

Israel's Foreign Ministry instructed the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, to protest to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres over the Lebanese actions on the border.