Hezbollah planned to launch a surprise tunnel invasion of the Galilee under the cover of heavy artillery fire, in an attempt to conquer and occupy it, the IDF said Tuesday afternoon, explaining that the objective of Operation Northern Shield is to prevent such an event.
“In 2012, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed that he has a plan to conquer the Galilee,” said Lt. Colonel Jonathan Conricus of the IDF Spokesperson’s unit, in a briefing on the northern border called after the IDF launched an operation in the early hours of Tuesday morning to expose and neutralize Hezbollah tunnels crossing into Israel.
“The plan was quite simple,” Conricus said. “Massive amounts of fire to be fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah towards the immediate area by the border, and an additional part of the plan, the ‘surprise factor,’ would be to have elite Hezbollah terrorists to come from Lebanon to infiltrate Israel and try to surprise Israeli troops and civilians.”
“That is what Operation Northern Shield is about. That is what we are exposing today and that is what we are dealing with,” he said.
According to Conricus, the IDF has been monitoring Hezbollah’s subterranean activities for over four years.
“Today, we can say that we are aware of what Hezbollah is doing. We know that Hezbollah has been digging tunnels into Israel along the Blue Line, violating Israeli sovereignty as well as UN Resolution 1701, [and is] doing so under the closed eyes or open eyes of UN peacekeepers, Lebanese armed forces, and is confirming what the IDF has been saying over and over again since 2006 – Hezbollah is armed and present in southern Lebanon and is using civilian infrastructure for their military purposes,” he continued.
“Today we have launched Operation Northern Shield. This is the first day of the operation. We assume that it will take quite a lot of time to expose and destroy all of the tunnels, and we will continue to do so until all of the tunnels have been destroyed,” he concluded.
By Yona Schnitzer/TPS | Photo by Gili Eliyahu Adler/TPS