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Israeli Operation To Destroy Cross-border Terror Tunnels Possible Precursor To Neutralizing Hizbullah’s Missiles

Hours after the Israel Defense Forces launched “Operation Northern Shield” to expose and destroy cross-border terror tunnels constructed by Hizbullah, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described the mission as a “small piece of the big picture of our efforts and actions to ensure security on all fronts.” His comments were immediately construed as an indication that the operation may be a precursor to confronting what is widely viewed as the greater threat posed by Hizbullah’s arsenal of some 120,000 projectiles. Netanyahu has over the past two months repeatedly warned that the Iranian terror proxy is constructing underground factories in Lebanon capable of producing precision-guided missiles that can target critical infrastructure anywhere in Israel. On Monday, the Israeli premier met in Brussels with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is believed to have conveyed a message: that is, unless the international community cracks down on Hizbullah, Israel will be forced to take matters into its own hands. For now, the current operation is expected to take weeks to complete and on Tuesday afternoon the IDF uncovered the “first of what are sure to be many” tunnels. The subterranean structure—which local media reported is one of at least ten in existence—was identified near the town of Metullah, is 200 meters (650 feet) long and extends some 40 meters (120 feet) into Israeli territory. Jerusalem has, simultaneously, also launched a diplomatic offensive, announcing that it will lobby the United Nations Security Council to condemn Hizbullah’s militarization of southern Lebanon. “It is clear that Hizbullah aggressively violated Resolution 1701,” Ambassador Danny Danon said in reference to the legally binding resolution that set the terms for ending the 2006 war between Israel and the terror group. The text called for Hizbullah’s total disarmament and the creation of an arms-free buffer zone along the frontier, conditions that evidently have not been met. Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, a Hizbullah ally, instructed the country’s army to “closely monitor” the IDF’s activities.