United Nations force confirms presence of tunnel on Lebanon-Israel border

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Celebrates Hanukkah with Fellow Likudniks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Celebrates Hanukkah with Fellow Likudniks

The Israeli military launched an operation on Tuesday to "expose and thwart" tunnels built by the Hezbollah militant group it says stretch from Lebanon into northern Israel.

According to a senior IDF officer, the operation, which is expected to last several weeks, has caught Hezbollah off guard and has very much embarrassed the Shi'ite militia.

Stepping up an global pressure campaign against Hezbollah, the terror group responsible for the tunnel, Israel hosted the commander of UNIFIL on Thursday, showing him one of the tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border and urging the force to take action across the border.

Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for overdramatizing a recent operation by the Israeli military to block what it claims are tunnels the Hezbollah resistance movement has dug from Lebanon into the occupied territories "for political gain".

The prime minister urged the worldwide community to "unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, by Hezbollah and by Hamas, and, of course, to also strengthen the sanctions against these elements".

In a statement from his office, he said Israel plans to demand a response from the global community at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council called for by Israel. Gen. Yoel Strick slammed Hezbollah for violating UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Gen. Stefano Del Col, the commander of the U.N.'s peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a tour of a tunnel that entered Israel.

"I assess that we have a clear picture of all of the tunnels, but you can never be sure", he said.

He said that at the end of the operation, the tunnels "will no longer exist and will no longer be effective". Gen. Stefano Del Col, encouraged both sides to reduce "the high level of rhetoric", avoid misunderstandings, and ensure that security and stability along the United Nations -drawn Blue Line "is maintained and reinforced", United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in NY.

UNIFIL said it is "engaged with the parties to pursue urgent follow-up action" and "will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon".

The Israeli military said it provided UNIFL with a map of the area around Ramieh village on which houses were marked which are "connected to another attack tunnel that has been dug from Lebanon into Israel", army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said.

After the Israel Defence Forces recognised the need to deal with the Hezbollah tunnels in 2015, a group of intelligence and army experts suggested a plan to later destroy the tunnels should be prepared.

The operation is part of Israel's wider campaign against Hezbollah, including actions to tackle the group's weapons facilities. "Anyone who is close to the tunnels is putting his or her life in danger".

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry is going to submit a complaint to the United Nations about "repeated Israeli violations", according to a report published by Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA).

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