Israel may have to act inside Lebanon, senior official says 

Source: Israel may have to act inside Lebanon, senior official says | The Times of Israel

Hezbollah’s terror tunnels were designed to for carrying out a ‘killing spree,’ official says; PM briefs foreign diplomats about current IDF op at northern border

PM Netanyahu (right) briefs foreign diplomats on Israel's border with Lebanon, December 6, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

PM Netanyahu (right) briefs foreign diplomats on Israel’s border with Lebanon, December 6, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

A senior Israeli official on Thursday indicated the IDF may have to extend its current operation to detect and destroy Hezbollah’s attack tunnels at Israel’s northern border and take action on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line.

“It is possible that we will be required to act inside Lebanon,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The cross-border tunnels “are wider and larger, and their goal is to transfer battalions, large forces, into Israeli territory, in order to come in and carry out a killing spree and kidnappings and to capture villages,” he said.

Operation Northern Shield was launched earlier this week due to the fear that the details of the operation would be leaked and revealed to Hezbollah, the senior official went on.

“If Hezbollah knew that we knew [about the existence of the tunnels] then this would accelerate their kidnapping efforts, and we did not want to get to a situation where the kidnappers infiltrate into Israel and abduct a soldier or a civilian, and no one would know anything about it,” the senior official said.

The decision to embark on the operation was taken on November 7, and was one of the reasons why the cabinet decided not to launch a major military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, the official added. “There were other reasons, too, but that was one of them,” he said.

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday briefed foreign diplomats about the army’s ongoing operation, urging them to condemn and sanction the Shiite terror group for its aggressive actions.

“Israel’s expectation is unequivocal condemnation of Hezbollah, additional sanctions on Hezbollah, and condemnation and demand from the Lebanese government to stop granting permission to use its territory for these attacks on Israel,” he told a group of senior ambassadors from across the globe.

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“We are denying our enemies the weapon of tunnels systematically and decisively,” he told the ambassadors. “What we are doing with Hamas and with Hezbollah as well — we’re doing everything we need to do,” he added.

“Anyone who attacks us — is taking his life into his hands,” he added. “Hezbollah knows this and Hamas knows that too.”

Operation Northern Shield has just begun, but at the end of it, Hezbollah’s tunnels “will no longer exist,” he vowed.

Netanyahu also spoke to the foreign diplomats about Iran, calling the Islamic Republic Israel’s greatest enemy.

“What we’re facing is one big enemy. That enemy is called Iran,” he said.

“Iran is trying to act on two levels: one is to develop a nuclear arsenal. We are dealing with that with other means including exposing the nuclear archive and the secret nuclear warehouse in Tehran. The second thing that Iran is doing is developing conventional weapons against us in their declared war to annihilate Israel. They declare so openly everyday.”

More than a dozen ambassadors participated in the briefing on a foggy Thursday morning, including those from the European Union, France, the UK, Russia, Hungary and Poland.

“The purpose of the ambassadors’ briefing was to receive support and legitimacy for additional actions, if they will become necessary,” the senior Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Israel will push for a discussion of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels at the UN Security Council later this week or early next week, the official said.

 

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