UN force confirms discovery of Hezbollah tunnel; Israel demands international response

Israel’s prime minister on Thursday asked the international community to impose additional sanctions on Hezbollah in response to the terror group’s tunnels stretching from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.

By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

On Thursday, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed Israel’s discovery of a tunnel infiltrating Israeli territory from southern Lebanon.

“Based on the site inspection, UNIFIL can confirm the existence of a tunnel at the location,” UNIFIL announced in a statement.

Stepping up an international pressure campaign against Hezbollah, the terror group responsible for the tunnel, Israel hosted the commander of UNIFIL on Thursday, showing him one of the tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border and urging the force to take action across the border.

The Israeli military this week launched an open-ended operation to expose and thwart tunnels built by the Lebanese Islamic terror group and designed to infiltrate Israeli territory.

On Thursday, the the IDF revealed the identity of a Hezbollah operative caught on camera in one of the cross-border attack tunnels. He was identified as Imad Azaladin Fahs, an individual not only affiliated with Hezbollah but also connected to Iran and to illegal drug cartels in Mexico and South America.

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Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, toured the operation’s area with a group of foreign ambassadors Thursday.

“I told the ambassadors that they need to unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, by Hezbollah and by Hamas, and of course, to also strengthen the sanctions against these elements,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also said he will demand the U.N. Security Council discuss the matter.

He said that at the end of the operation, the tunnels “will no longer exist and will no longer be effective.”

IDF Discovers Additional Tunnels

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, told reporters Thursday that the army is now operating in three areas where tunnels have been discovered.

“We are aware of additional tunnels,” he said.

He said that Israel’s northern commander, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik, on Thursday gave Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, the commander of the U.N.’s peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a tour of a tunnel that entered Israel.

In New York, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Del Col confirmed the existence of the tunnel during the inspection and promised to pursue “urgent follow-up action.”

He also said the U.N. force, called UNIFIL, will share its findings with the “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon.

“It is very important to determine the full picture of this serious occurrence,” he said.

Strik also presented UNIFIL a map with the location of a second tunnel, along with houses in Lebanon that Israel says are connected to the tunnel. He said Israel demanded that UNIFIL investigate and “neutralize” the shaft of the tunnel.

Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the actions of Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terror group that enjoys significant political power in Lebanon and maintains am international criminal network that traffics in illegal narcotics and money laundering.

In Lebanon, the LBC TV posted an audio message that it said some residents of the border village of Kfar Kila received on their cellphones Thursday warning them to stay away from tunnels.

“Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger because of digging tunnels,” said the Arabic audio message, which appeared to have been sent by Israel. “These tunnels could explode. Anyone who is close to the tunnels is putting his or her life in danger.”

The Lebanese foreign minister on Thursday instructed Lebanon’s representative at the United Nations to lodge a complaint against Israel over of its “diplomatic and political campaign against Lebanon that seeks to pave the way for an aggression.”

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He also denounced Israel’s encroachment on the Lebanese telecommunications network by sending recorded messages to the residents of Kfar Kila.