21:33 GMT30 July 2021
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    The Israeli military revealed on Wednesday that one of the recently discovered Hezbollah tunnels originates near the town of Ramyah on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line, claiming it terminates “several meters into Israeli territory,” near the Israeli moshav of Zarit.

    Judging by the wording of the Israel Defense Forces statement on Wednesday, the tunnel in question was probably the fourth discovered by the IDF believed to be intended for staging secret attacks into Israel by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

    "During the weekend, IDF soldiers exposed a Hezbollah attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory from Lebanon," an IDF spokesperson said in a statement, according to Arutz Sheva. "Today, the location has been cleared for publication. The attack tunnel was dug in the area of the Shiite village Ramyah and penetrated several meters into Israeli territory. The efforts to expose and neutralize the attack tunnels will continue as necessary."

    The tunnel was discovered using seismic listening devices but also by monitoring the area and discovering telltale clues, such as a single tree that had burned, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing the IDF.

    The UN-arbitrated Blue Line serves as the de facto border between Israel and Lebanon, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the south of the country in 2000, although it isn't recognized as the actual border. Subsequent ceasefires, such as that which concluded the 2006 war, in which Israel again invaded southern Lebanon, have referred to the Blue Line as the demarcation line between the two sides. However, it isn't the same as Israel's 1949 borders, which are internationally recognized, and in many places the difference between the two can be several hundred meters.

    Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar called into question Israel's claims about the tunnels violating the Blue Line earlier this week, noting that Israeli officers have attempted "to demarcate the Blue Line without the presence of international liaison officers and in the absence of the Lebanese Army's topography team" in order to plant "spy devices" in the area.

    The IDF has repeatedly pressured both the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to take action and destroy the Hezbollah tunnels on their side of the Blue Line. However, given the incredible popularity of the militant group, especially in the south of the country and in Shiite towns like Ramyah, decisive action by UNIFIL has been seen so far as politically unpalatable.

    "I demand that UNIFIL meet its mandate," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday, calling on it to "stand up for the truth and take the necessary action."

    Netanyahu has encouraged the US to pressure the LAF by threatening its military aid, in order to get it to take action, Sputnik reported.

    On Wednesday at the UN, Israel's envoy, Danny Danon, told the Security Council that a security leak inside UNIFIL had given Hezbollah "precise information about the location of the tunnel" that had been given to the UN by Israel.

    "Sources within the Lebanese army informed Hezbollah about the information, which enabled the terrorist organization to conceal the tunnel's operations and thwart Israel's defensive actions," Danon said, Bloomberg reported.

    Israel began its operations near the Blue Line, dubbed Operation Northern Shield, on December 4, and has found four such tunnels so far, claiming that one of the other tunnels also violates the Blue Line.


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    Israel, Israel Defence Forces (IDF), United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Hezbollah, tunnel, location, announcement, border, Shiite
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