Israel launches operation to cut off Hezbollah infiltration tunnels

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The surprise announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels over regional dangers, with both having repeatedly warned about the activities of Israel's arch foe Iran.

The IDF launched Operation Northern Shield early Tuesday morning to expose and destroy terror tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel.

The Israeli government demanded worldwide action on Hezbollah on Tuesday for building tunnels to infiltrate and launch attacks against Israel.

"One tunnel was described as being 80 feet underground, six feet wide, six feet tall, and penetrating 130 feet into Israeli territory".

Hamas in Gaza reportedly provided Hezbollah with information on how to build such tunnels, after building several between the coastal strip and southern Israel. "We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran's efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel".

"We are acting with determination to prevent Iran from being rooted in Syria. we are also acting against Iran's terrorist actions in Lebanon", he said. "Hamas uses the tunnels for tactical operations".

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Although its attention has been diverted to violent protests along its border with Gaza in recent months, Israel's main security concerns lie to the north, along the border with Lebanon. A small explosion scared him away and the tunnel was later blown up with a more powerful blast.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said the situation in its area of operation "remains calm" and it is coordinating with relevant parties to maintain this stability.

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.

Last year, Hezbollah's leader said any future conflict with Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, and there would be "no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters".

The military said the tunnels were not yet operational but posed "an imminent threat" to Israeli civilians, and constituted "a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty".

Additionally, the Lebanese army command said that it is watching the situation closely, reiterating its readiness to confront any emergency situation.

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Israel views the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its vast weapons cache as a major threat.

Miko Peled, a former member of the Israeli army who has now become a pro-Palestinian activist, also believes that the Israeli operation is actually meant to distract public opinion from Netanyahu's corruption probes.

Why are Israel and Hezbollah enemies?

In 2013, the army acted on reports that Hezbollah was digging tunnels, but failed to locate any, he said.

Neither side appears interested quite yet in another full-fledged confrontation like the 2006 war, but any skirmish could spark an all-out conflict along the tense border.

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