White House Backs Israeli Op Against Hezbollah Tunnels, Calls on Iran to 'Stop Aggression'

John Bolton says 'U.S. strongly supports Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty,' calls on Hezbollah to 'refrain from escalation and violence'

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton at the White House, Washington, DC, November 27, 2018
AFP

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration expressed its support on Tuesday for Israel’s action against attack tunnels that Hezbollah constructed on the Israel-Lebanon border.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton issued a statement condemning Iran and Hezbollah and urged Tehran – which supports the militant group – to “stop its aggression” across the Middle East.

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“The U.S. strongly supports Israel’s right to defend its sovereignty,” Bolton said. He called on Hezbollah to stop tunneling into Israel and "refrain from escalation and violence."

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The Israeli army launched an operation dubbed Northern Shield on Monday night to destroy the cross-border tunnels constructed by Hezbollah, which cross the Lebanese border into Israel.

The army announced the discovery of the tunnels on Tuesday morning and said it has started destroying them. The operation will not only be limited to Israeli territory, its spokesperson later said.

"We have to prepare for all scenarios of neutralizing the tunnels," IDF 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."

Operation Northern Shield, added Manelis, will last several weeks: "Some actions will be more precise and some less. At this point we are operating within Israeli territory to seize the tunnels… in the future, these tunnels may be destroyed from other locations."

Manelis said that "the decision to keep the operation a secret was made in order to surprise Hezbollah," adding that the timing of the launch was determined after all of the intelligence and technological conditions were right. "This operation wasn't approved last night," he said.

Prime 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.