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Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

Israel launches military operation against 'Hezbollah tunnels'

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

The latest operation comes a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels, where he was reported to have been updated on the anti-tunnel action.

Israel today launched an attack on Lebanon in a bid to destroy what it claims are Hezbollah tunnels channelled under the Israel-Lebanon border.

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.

Additional IDF troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists were called up.

He said the military "holds the Lebanese government responsible for all activities perpetrated in Lebanon towards Israel".

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"Whoever tries to attack the state of Israel will pay a heavy price", Netanyahu said in a statement.

An official from the so-called "Axis of Resistance" - a grouping led by Iran and made up of Syrian officials, Iraq Shiite militias, Hezbollah and other groups - said Hezbollah fighters were "on high alert to confront any possible Israeli aggression".

It announced the operation on Twitter on Tuesday, saying that a number of areas close to Lebanon's border, including Metula, had been declared a closed military zone.

Israel has spent years dismantling a network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel, using several methods to destroy them and prevent them from being rebuilt.

The Lebanese terror group has yet to release an official response to the start of the Israeli operation, but an unnamed Hezbollah source told the al-Nahar news outlet that it showed Netanyahu in "crisis mode" over political and legal woes at home.

It said the army had "enhanced its presence and readiness" and was prepared for "various scenarios".

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Meanwhile, Lebanese president Michel Aoun on Monday morning received US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard to discuss the current developments in southern Lebanon.

Since the end of the 2006 war, Israeli forces have regularly violated Lebanon's sovereignty, with the regime's officials threatening another military offensive against the Arab country.

Netanyahu has pledged to stop Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria and to keep it from transferring advanced weapons to its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon. Northern residents have raised fears in recent years of attack tunnels being dug under the border, spurring the IDF to launch a task force to investigate the concerns in 2014.

Hezbollah is backed by Iran, Israel's main enemy.

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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