Israel may expand anti-tunnel operation into Lebanon, minister says

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel is ready to take motion in Lebanon towards Hezbollah cross-border tunnels if mandatory, an Israeli cupboard minister stated on Friday.

Israel’s army stated earlier this week that it had discovered plenty of passages dug throughout the Israel-Lebanon border for use in finishing up assaults inside Israel. The Israeli army despatched mechanical diggers, troops and anti-tunneling tools to the border to close them down.

The Israeli army, which launched the operation on Tuesday, has stated its exercise would, for now, cease on the Israeli aspect of the border.

However Israeli information media on Thursday quoted a unnamed senior official saying that Israel may prolong its exercise into Lebanon, and on Friday Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz reiterated that messages.

“If we expect that with a view to thwart the tunnels that one must function on the opposite aspect – then we are going to function on the opposite aspect of the border,” Katz instructed Radio Tel Aviv 102FM.

What kind the motion would take was not clear. Over the previous 12 months, no less than 15 tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel have been discovered and destroyed, the Israeli army stated.

The United Nations peacekeeping Interim Power in Lebanon (UNIFIL), confirmed the existence of a tunnel close to the “blue line” frontier between the 2 nations on Thursday, describing it as a “severe incidence”.

Within the aftermath of the Israeli tunnel announcement, the state of affairs has remained calm on each side of the border. However the Israeli operation has introduced renewed consideration to a frontier throughout which Israel and Hezbollah final fought a warfare in 2006.

The Israeli army stated in a press release on Thursday that it “holds the Lebanese authorities, the Lebanese Armed Forces and United Nations Interim Power in Lebanon accountable for all occasions transpiring in and emanating from Lebanon.”

It added that an Israeli army commander had proven one of many tunnels to the top of UNIFIL, Main-Basic Stefano Del Col, and it urged UNIFIL and the Lebanese military to clear the world of tunnels.

UNIFIL stated in its assertion it was “engaged with the events to pursue pressing follow-up motion”.

Lebanese Overseas Minister Gebran Bassil has instructed the nation’s envoy to the U.N. to complain that Israel is waging “a diplomatic and political marketing campaign towards Lebanon in preparation for assaults towards it”, Hezbollah’s l-Manar TV stated.

Because the 2006 warfare, Israel has largely kept away from hanging at Hezbollah on Lebanese soil, however it has carried out dozens of assaults in Syria towards what it stated have been superior weapons shipments to the Iranian-backed Shi’ite group.

(This has been refiled so as to add dropped letter in title of UNIFIL head.)

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell, modifying by Larry King)

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