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Operation Northern Shield will "expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel", Israel Defense Forces said in a post on Twitter.

"Hezbollah is a risky terror organization acting out of Lebanon under the orders of Tehran, and its goal is to inflict damage to Israel and to Israeli citizens".

Lebanese troops and military intelligence agents, along with United Nations peacekeepers deployed in southern Lebanon, were observing the border Tuesday, a Lebanese military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. The Israeli war cabinet also meets today to decide if and how to expand the operation.

Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon said Hezbollah is under the direction of Iran. It's "a plan that would coordinate massive barrages of hundreds of missiles with border infiltrations carried out by 5,000 specially-trained Hezbollah terrorists", the report said.

"One tunnel was described as being 80 feet underground, six feet wide, six feet tall, and penetrating 130 feet into Israeli territory".

Israel has spent years dismantling a network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel, using several methods to destroy them and prevent them from being rebuilt.

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Since 2014, an IDF joint-task force of the Intelligence Directorate and the Northern Command has been tackling the problem of Hamas terror tunnels, and in 2015 it began a project to improve the defense of the northern line, including exposing and cutting off the tunnels and constructing a seven-mile (11-kilometer) stone fence.

The announcement of the operation comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday night.

"We will continue with further activities, covert and overt, to ensure Israel's security". Netanyahu's office said the two discussed "how we can together curb Iran's aggression in the region", including in Lebanon, and that the Israeli leader updated Pompeo on the operation.

A Syrian opposition figure familiar with the area said at the time of last week's reported attack that Israel had targeted the area because Syrian army barracks there had become a recruitment hub for Iran-backed forces. He compared Hamas tunnels with those of Hezbollah. He adds that military officials are urging people to go about their business as normal, saying the tunnels are not in use.

According to Conricus, the tunnels were part of a Hezbollah plan from 2012 to "shift the battlefield to Israel" and "conquer the Galilee" in a future conflict by infiltrating its territory. Nevertheless, it could inflame tensions along the border.

Israel gave no special orders to local residents, signaling that it too was not expecting an immediate response from Hezbollah.


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