(January 14, 2019 / JNS) The Israel Defense Forces announced that following the discovery of a sixth cross-border attack tunnel between Lebanon and Israel, it has completed “Operation Northern Shield,” defined as a comprehensive scan of Israel’s northern border aimed at finding and neutralizing terror tunnels.
“With the discovery of this terror tunnel, the effort to locate the passages dug by Hezbollah that crossed the border into Israeli territory has been completed. The neutralization of this passage will be finished in the coming days,” the army said in a statement.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters that Israeli intelligence and analysis have confirmed that no more attack tunnels exist along Israel’s northern border.
“Operation Northern Shield” was launched on Dec. 4, with the IDF finding six tunnels burrowing from Lebanon into sovereign Israeli territory.
Additional partial tunnels that have not yet reached Israel are also under Israeli surveillance. The IDF stated that Hezbollah has halted construction on those tunnels since the operation began.
The sixth tunnel—originating in the Lebanese village of Ramyeh from which another tunnel also emanated—was found to penetrate several dozen meters into Israel and extend 2,600 feet at a depth of 180 feet underground. It was outfitted with electricity, a rail system to move equipment, exit stairs and other sophisticated elements.
Israel has said that it believes the tunnels were dug by Hezbollah to add a surprise element to any future wars with Israel, allowing terrorists to invade the Jewish state en masse and launch operations on the ground.
The construction of the tunnels has taken place despite the presence of many of the 10,480 military personnel and 822 civilian staff employed by UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon), an international body mandated to ensure peace and security along the Israeli-Lebanese border, with a budget upwards of $450 million a year.
UNIFIL announced that it had stepped up patrols since the tunnels were discovered.
Included in Israel’s response has been the building of a large border wall between Israel and Lebanon, which Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry is decrying as a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution ending the 2006 Second Lebanon War.