Israel Provided No Evidence of Hezbollah Tunnels, Says Lebanese Parliament Speaker

Nabih Beri demands coordinates of cross-border tunnels, warns Israeli forces against entering Lebanon

Lebanese soldiers stand near the border with Israel, at the village of Kfar Kila, in south Lebanon, December 5, 2018.
Aziz Taher/Reuters

Israel provided no evidence of cross-border attack tunnels in a meeting with U.N. peacekeepers on Wednesday, Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri said.

"The Israelis did not present any information" at the meeting with the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, a statement from Beri's office said, adding that geographic coordinates had been demanded but not received.

"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. 

>> Read more: The battle over the timing of Israel's operation against Hezbollah tunnels | Analysis ■ Tunnel demolition operation: Hezbollah is in no hurry to battle Israel | Analysis

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Beirut, December 8, 2017.
Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

The Israeli military launched a campaign dubbed Operation Northern Shield on Tuesday on its side of the border to "expose and thwart" tunnels crossing Israel that it said originated in Lebanon.

Israel accused Lebanon's Hezbollah of digging across the common border, saying the tunnels were not yet functional but posed "an imminent threat." There was no comment from the Iran-backed organization. 

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that the operation would not be limited to Israeli territory. "We have to prepare for all scenarios in neutralizing the tunnels," Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, told reporters. "Some of [the scenarios] will not be in our territory and this is something we are preparing for."

According to Beri, Israel is free to operate on its soil, but Lebanon's approach would be "different" should forces enter Lebanon.

Mechanical diggers, drills and other heavy machinery were seen from south Lebanon throughout Tuesday, working on the Israeli side of the heavily-guarded border. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late on Tuesday the operation would continue for as long as necessary.