Israel demands UN take action over Hezbollah tunnel

Jerusalem: Israel’s army on Thursday demanded a UN peacekeeping force operating across the border with Lebanon to destroy a tunnel the military said was built by Hezbollah across the frontier.

Israel launched an operation dubbed “Northern Shield” on Tuesday to destroy tunnels it said were dug across the border by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

As operations continued on Thursday, the army said it had contacted the United Nations peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) which monitors the border region regarding a tunnel originating on the Lebanese side of the border.

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

The tunnel crosses into Israel but is not yet operational, he added.

Yoel Strik, head of the army’s northern command, demanded the UN force “take action, investigate and make sure to neutralise the shaft of that attack tunnel” in a discussion with the head of the peacekeeping mission Stefano Del Col.

Following the launch of “Northern Shield”, UNIFIL said Tuesday it had increased patrols but noted the area remained calm.

Israel has not detailed how many tunnels have been detected, although Cornicus on Thursday said the army was working in three different areas along the border.

The operation is part of Israel’s wider campaign against Iran-backed Hezbollah, including actions to tackle the group’s weapons facilities.

Israel estimates Hezbollah has approximately 130,000 rockets in its arsenal, although rejects the group’s claim that it has successfully acquired precision missiles.

“Despite Hezbollah’s effort to insinuate otherwise, Hezbollah is not in possession of any significant accurate capabilities,” Conricus said.