by Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Sixth and final Hezbollah attack tunnel is one of the largest and most sophisticated the IDF has found
IDF troops search on the northern border search for
Screenshot: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
The IDF on Sunday said Operation Northern Shield along the Lebanese border is complete following the discovery on a sixth and last Hezbollah attack tunnel. IDF officials said the tunnel was one of the largest uncovered thus far.
"Yesterday [Saturday] afternoon another attack tunnel from Lebanese territory into Israel was found," said IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis.
"The tunnel was dug from the village of Ramyah. The Northern Command, the 91st Division and Yahalom [the Engineering Corps' commando unit] have worked since Dec. 4 and have essentially taken care of the tunnels. From an initial examination … we consider it one of the main tunnels we have uncovered. It is very long, 800 meters (2,625 feet) inside Lebanese territory and dozens of meters inside Israeli territory. Its depth is 55 meters (180 feet) beneath the surface. It is two meters (6.5 feet) high and one meter (3.2 feet) wide."
Manelis also divulged some of what was found inside the tunnel, including "tracks to transport waste, equipment across the entire length of the tunnel, electricity and lighting, stairs leading up into our territory … In this tunnel, the stairs were carved into the rock. A great deal of time and resources appear to have been invested in the tunnel, [which was] not fully operational but was in its advanced stages."
Manelis said Israel had notified UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon, of the latest tunnel discovery.
"In the next few days we will finish our examination of the tunnel and will transition to the stage of neutralizing it. It no longer represents a threat. Anyone who enters [the tunnel] from the other side will be putting his life in danger. The tunnel's exposure completes the discovery of all the tunnels Hezbollah has dug from Lebanese territory into Israel.
Manelis said that once the sixth tunnel was neutralized, Operation Northern Shield would be complete.
At the same time, he added, "We are monitoring several locations in Lebanon where Hezbollah is digging tunnels that haven't crossed into Israel yet. We are continuing to implement a series of defensive measures – the [border] barrier according to a pre-approved plan; an ongoing technological-intelligence effort; and keeping troops from the Engineering Corps and 91st Division in place on a permanent basis to track and safeguard underground activity.
"Although this stage of the operation is over, we are remaining in the north at full capacity. We are determined to protect the residents of the north and track Hezbollah's underground activities. Residents of the Galilee – who have worked with us over the past month – contributed to the operation's success.
"Lebanon is responsible for everything that happens in Lebanon. We are warning anyone who enters these tunnels, lives where they are being dug or in their vicinity," Manelis said.
This weekend, Lebanese Ambassador to the U.N. Amal Mudallali wrote to the U.N. Security Council and asked that it take action against Israel's barrier project on the Lebanese border.
Mudallali alleged that by constructing the barrier, Israel was "violating Lebanon's sovereignty" and argued that the project violated U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, passed following the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said in response to the Lebanese claims that "Rather than filing baseless complaints, it's time for the Lebanese government to roll up its sleeves and start addressing the violations by Hezbollah, which could come at a heavy cost which the residents of South Lebanon will have to pay.
"Israel will continue to carry out defense work within its borders to eradicate any threat to its citizens," Danon said.
Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
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