Israel launches operation to thwart Hizbollah tunnels from Lebanon

Israeli soldiers guard near the border with Lebanon in the town of Metulla northern Israel

The Israeli military has launched an operation along Lebanon's border under the pretext of "cutting off" what it claims are tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement near the occupied territories.

"We see Hezbollah's actions as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty", he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the early successes of the operation, and warned of a "heavy price" to be exacted from those who attempt to harm the State of Israel.

The army went on to say that "In October 2014, a special operational engineering team was established in the Northern Command to expose and identify Hezbollah's offensive tunnels, while at the same time a project began to fortify the border, which included drilling into the ground". He declined to say how many were detected or how they would be cut off.

Netanyahu said he discussed the operation with Pompeo and called the tunnels a violation of a United Nations resolution aimed at ending a 2006 war between Israel and Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Israel has launched what it calls "an operation to expose and neutralise" tunnels between Lebanon and Israel allegedly made by armed group Hezbollah.

Its Arabic media spokesman posted a message on Twitter warning the Lebanese army and Hezbollah to stay away, saying: "Your lives are in danger, you have been warned".

Some areas near the border fence had been closed off.

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Col Conricus said the tunnels were part of a plan by Hezbollah to "conquer the Galilee" region of Israel in a future conflict.

Additional IDF troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but no reservists were called up. "I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a series of regional developments, as well as the steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north", Netanyahu told reporters before boarding.

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

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.

The two fought an inconclusive, month-long war in 2006.

There has been increased attention in Israel in recent days over Israeli officials' concerns regarding Iranian activity in Lebanon. Amid the crisis he took on the defence portfolio from his resigning minister and promised to pursue a hard line against Israel's enemies during what he described as a "complex" security situation.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, has also been heavily engaged in Syria, where it is battling alongside government forces.

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

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