The Israeli army announced on Friday that it started destroying the attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah into Israeli territory under the Lebanese border.
The army said it blew up a cross-border tunnel dug from the Lebanese village of Ramia on Thursday night and "will continue its mission of exposing and destroying the tunnels according to plan." The army added that it holds the Lebanese government responsible for the digging of the tunnels.
>> Analysis: Attack tunnels are only a prelude to the real Hezbollah threat
IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said on Thursday that the tunnels will be destroyed in such a way that Hezbollah will not be able to use them. "Each tunnel will be dealt with in the way best suited to it," Manelis said. "Some tunnels were quarried out of rock, and some were made of concrete."
Manelis further warned surrounding residents to stay away from the area where the army was working. "Anyone who does so is endangering their life," he said.
The Israeli army destroying Hezbollah tunnels in the north, December 20, 2018. IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
Manelis said Israeli civilians may be affected by the tunnels’ destruction as well, as certain areas will be closed off and explosions will be heard. Manelis said civilians will be warned in case of explosions and that that the army is working hard to ensure that daily life in the north is not disrupted.
The IDF spokesman blamed Lebanon’s government for allowing the tunnels to be dug. So far, four have been discovered; the last was found earlier this week.
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The Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday that Israel had contacted the Lebanese army via U.S. intermediaries and asked them to help locate and destroy Hezbollah’s tunnels in coordination with UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The report said Israel believed Washington could pressure the Lebanese army by threatening to end military aid.