Netanyahu Says 'Border Tunnels' Operation to 'Continue as Long as Necessary'


Meanwhile, Lebanese president Michel Aoun on Monday morning received US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard to discuss the current developments in southern Lebanon. "The army command is ready to confront any emergency", it said. He declined to say how many had been detected or how they would be destroyed. While the barrier's construction has prompted complaints from the Lebanese army, Hezbollah has not responded - an indication it could remain restrained amid the new operation.

Hezbollah was formed following the Israeli regime's invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing occupation of its southern parts in the 1980s, and now constitutes Lebanon's de facto military power.

A Hezbollah official told al-Nahar that Netanyahu was "in crisis" and had manufactured the confrontation in order to distract from his legal and political troubles.

Suspicious timing: In Israel and Lebanon, critics of Netanyahu's government are questioning the timing of the operation just as police have recommended that the prime minister be indicted on bribery charges.

Netanyahu has spoken of a sensitive security situation without providing details, particularly after defence minister Avigdor Lieberman quit over a controversial Gaza ceasefire last month.

Throughout Tuesday mechanical diggers, drills and other heavy machinery could be seen from south Lebanon, working on the Israeli side of the heavily-guarded border.

Israel is also trying to send a message of deterrence to Hezbollah, he said, which as of Tuesday had not reacted to the news that Israel had uncovered one of its tunnels and plans to destroy more.

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

The photographs appeared to have been taken from watchtowers along the Israeli-Lebanese border, which are meant to be used exclusively by the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The 200-meter tunnel, which originated in a private home in Qafr Kila in southern Lebanon and penetrated some 40 meters into Israel's north near the town of Metulla, did not present an immediate threat, the army said.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, has also been heavily engaged in Syria, where it is battling alongside government forces. A Lebanese army source said the situation was calm on its side of the border, as did United Nations peacekeepers operating there.

Before his departure, Netanyahu hinted at the Israel operation.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a monthlong war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate. 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. Israel's border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet in the years since, but Israel views the Shiite militant group and its rockets as a major threat.

Within Lebanon itself, Hezbollah has built a series of underground structures to stay out of the sights of the Israeli Air Force and create a challenge to advancing Israeli ground forces.