Having announced the beginning of Operation Northern Shield on Tuesday morning, IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that the military had discovered Hezbollah tunnels, with one of them being dug from a private home in Kafr Kila in southern Lebanon.
“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”, he told reporters.
According to the spokesman, it took some two years to build the tunnel under the house that stretches about 200 metres, 40 of which are within Israel’s territory.
The military said that in the aftermath of the 2014 Gaza war, Israel realised that there was an “underground threat” that was to be eliminated:
“Two teams are created: one in the south, which has so far exposed some 17 tunnels, and another on the Northern Command, which operated under the assumption that if there are tunnels in the south, it is likely there are [tunnels] in the north”.
Manelis went on to say that Israel had warned Lebanon and the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in South Lebanon that anyone who approached the area of the operation, was putting himself in peril.
Commenting on the operation, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren told Sputnik that Israel has informed Moscow about Israel's actions.
"I can add that not only the Lebanese side, but also the Russian side received this information. Today, the Israeli delegation was in the Russian Foreign Ministry, and a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister [Sergey] Vershinin took place, where this [operation Northern Shield] was one of the topics that was discussed," Koren said.
The official continued by saying that Israel was not pursuing any "hidden agenda" in respect to Lebanon by carrying out the operation.
"The tunnel that was discovered by our army in the north of Israel today infiltrates Israel's territory by tens of meters. Hezbollah's goals were clearly aggressive and we could no longer tolerate it. How long the operation will continue, I cannot say. We are searching for the tunnels, I emphasize, on our territory," Koren said.
According to Haaretz, the Israeli military has been aware of Hezbollah’s plans to build tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border in order to carry out attacks against the Jewish state since the 2006 Lebanon War and has been trying to map them since 2014.
The Israeli campaign was kicked off shortly after Hezbollah uploaded a video to YouTube, warning Israel against launching missile strikes on Lebanon and threatening retaliation.