15:22 GMT +319 January 2019
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    An Israeli soldier lowers a camera down an Israeli-dug hole into a cross-border tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel, as seen on the Israeli side of the border, near the town of Metula December 19, 2018

    Operation Northern Shield May Not Find All Hezbollah Tunnels – IDF Intel Chief

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    Last week, an Israel Defence Forces spokesman said the operation to destroy tunnels dug by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement along the border between Israel and Lebanon launched last month would take several more weeks to complete.

    The end goal of Operation Northern Shield, the military operation to destroy Hezbollah "attack tunnels" running from Lebanon into Israel is to "thwart" the group's attack plans, not to destroy every single tunnel, Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman has said.

    "I want to emphasize that we are not talking about an operation whose goal is to destroy the attack tunnel capacity of Hezbollah, but rather…to thwart Hezbollah's primary attack plan," the officer said, speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, The Jerusalem Post has reported.

    According to Hyman, Hezbollah's "plan" had been to "conquer villages on the Northern border and to penetrate the area near the border" to stop Israel from deploying a stronger military presence in the area in the event of a conflict, and to prevent the IDF from concentrating its operations on the Lebanese side of the border in the event of war.

    Hyman stressed that the operation to find and eliminate the tunnels on the Israeli side of the border have given the IDF possible 'tactical advantages' to use against Hezbollah tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border as well. The military intelligence chief did not clarify whether Israel would use these advantages in covert operations, or a situation of a broader war.

    Israel launched Operation Northern Shield on December 4, and is reported to have destroyed at least five Hezbollah tunnels so far. Last week, an IDF spokesman said the operation would take several more weeks to complete. The IDF operation prompted the Lebanese Army and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to beef up their patrols along the UN-established Blue Line border demarcation area to prevent an escalation of tensions.

    Israel and Hezbollah last clashed in 2006, with Israeli forces invading Lebanon after Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid. The conflict, which lasted 34 days and claimed the lives of over 1,300 people, was halted by a UN-brokered ceasefire. Lebanese-Israeli relations have remained poor for many decades, with tensions escalating recently amid Israeli suspicions that Hezbollah was being used by Iran to wage a proxy war on Israel. Throughout 2018, politicians, officials and generals from both countries increasingly talked about the possibility of open war.

    Hezbollah is considered a terror group by Israel.

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    Tags:
    tunnel, campaign, operation, Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Hezbollah, Tamir Hyman, Lebanon, Israel
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