04:44 GMT01 August 2021
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    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released footage Friday of soldiers collapsing with explosives one of the Hezbollah tunnels discovered near the Blue Line. The tunnel is one previously identified as going between the Israeli town of Zarit and the Lebanese town of Ramyeh.

    "We are about to blow up this tunnel built by Hezbollah," an unnamed IDF officer shouts into a megaphone at the start of the video, which was posted on the IDF's Twitter account. "We ask you to evacuate the area immediately. You are in danger."

    The video then cuts to an officer identified by the Times of Israel as 300th Regional Brigade Commander Col. Roey Levi, who orders the destruction of the tunnel, which is seen seconds later.

    ​The tunnel, one of at least five discovered by the IDF since it began Operation Northern Shield on December 4, was reportedly dug by Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah across the Blue Line, which serves as the de facto border between Israel and Lebanon.

    Destruction of the tunnels began on Thursday, Sputnik reported, which is when this video was filmed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army was using "special means" to seal off the tunnels. "We are continuing in our efforts to thwart those terror tunnels."

    An IDF statement on Friday further noted that, "The neutralization and destruction phase of Hezbollah's cross-border attack tunnels begun yesterday and is led by the combat engineering units of the Northern Command and the Yahalom (Special Combat Engineering) Unit."

    "As part of this effort, a cross-border attack tunnel dug from the Shiite village of Ramyeh into Israel was detonated," the statement said. "The IDF holds the Lebanese Government responsible for digging the attack tunnels and the consequences of this action. The IDF will continue to expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels in accordance with the approved plan."

    Earlier this week, Netanyahu asked the US to put pressure on the Lebanese Armed Forces to take action against the tunnels on their side of the Blue Line after it became clear that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a peacekeeping force that has been in place since Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, was refusing to do so out of fear of alienating pro-Hezbollah Shiite towns in the region, Sputnik reported.

    IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told the Times of Israel that army was using different methods to collapse different tunnels, due to the unique way each had been constructed.

    "Some of them have concrete components, some of them were dug into the living rock," he said. "Each tunnel has a tailored [destruction] technique."

    This frame grab from video released on Friday, July 21, 2017 and provided by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows a Hezbollah cannon pounding militants' positions on the Lebanon-Syria border
    © AP Photo / Syrian Central Military Media

    UNIFIL confirmed on Monday that at least two of the tunnels crossed into Israel and were therefore in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006, but did not confirm Israel's allegations they were dug by Hezbollah.

    According to the Times, Israeli forces have been operating north of the border wall, but still inside Israeli territory, in order to find some of the tunnels, and Israeli officials have indicated they may venture into Lebanese territory in order to destroy the tunnels if necessary.

    Such an event could spark the shooting war the IDF was trying to prevent, as Hezbollah has positioned itself — with some justification — as the defender of Lebanon against Israeli incursions. The 2006 invasion by Israel was fought to a standstill by Hezbollah fighters, forcing Israel to withdraw after their offensive stalled and the IDF proved unable to dislodge Hezbollah from their positions.


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