Israel launches attack on Lebanon, claims destroying Hezbollah tunnels

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As NPR's Estrin reports, "All this comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels and discussed Iran's involvement in the region".

It is in this context that Israel was able to successful take tunnel detection technology from the Gazan border, where it was used to discover and destroy one Hamas tunnel after another, and bring it to the Lebanese border.

Gen. Ronen Manelis presented Tuesday footage of Hezbollah terrorists approaching a hidden camera inside a tunnel located on the Lebanese border.

Once inside Israel, they would be able to enter border villages, murder and kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers, and plant the yellow Hezbollah flag in an Israeli village.

The existence of the tunnels did not appear to have surprised Israel. "We will continue with additional actions - open and covert - in order to ensure the security of Israel", the prime minister said.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) refused to say how many tunnels it had detected but said that several had already crossed beneath the ground from Lebanon into Israel.

According to Conricus, the tunnels were part of a Hezbollah plan from 2012 to "shift the battlefield to Israel" and "conquer the Galilee" in a future conflict by infiltrating its territory.

Malene Jensen, spokeswoman for the United Nations force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL, said the situation in the peacekeepers' "area of operation remains calm" and that they are in touch with all relevant parties to make sure calm and stability is maintained.

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In a telephone briefing with The Israel Project (TIP), reserve Col. Atai Shelach, former commander of the Yahalom unit in charge of dismantling tunnels, said it was just a matter of time before Israel would launch such an operation.

The IDF dismissed claims by both Israelis and Hezbollah that Netanyahu chose to launch Operation Northern Shield now because of calls by police to indict him.

The military said in a statement it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios".

Netanyahu has spoken of a sensitive security situation in recent days without providing details, particularly after Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over a controversial Gaza ceasefire last month.

Prominent regional analyst Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, wrote Tuesday that the Israeli premier is struggling to save his own political life and avoid ending behind bars for graft by announcing such an operation.

The 200-meter tunnel, which originated in a private home in Qafr Kila in southern Lebanon and penetrated some 40 meters into Israel's north near the town of Metulla, did not present an immediate threat, the army said.

However, a friendly fire incident in Syria in September that led to the downing of a Russian plane by Syrian air defences during an Israeli strike has complicated Israeli operations.

The IDF made it clear that the operation is entirely inside Israel.