Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv

Tuesday’s destruction of a major Iranian-backed Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel that penetrated 130 feet into northern Israel was the first step into stopping its plan to conquer the Galilee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday night.

Speaking on national television from the Defense Ministry, Netanyahu said Operation Northern Shield, launched at dawn on Tuesday morning, was intended to “thwart the threat of the terrorist tunnels in southern Lebanon.” But it was also intended to stymie Hezbollah’s wider plan — expressed in recent months more than once by its leader, Hassan Nasrallah — to conquer the Galilee.

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“These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran. They were built with one purpose in mind – to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children. This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty, and a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution #1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression,” Netanyahu said.

“The terror tunnel that was exposed today was built under a home in a civilian neighborhood in southern Lebanon. Now, this is just one more example of how Hezbollah is committing a double war crime. They target civilians while hiding behind civilians. And this must be condemned loudly and clearly by all nations that care about peace, freedom and human dignity.

“I have a message for the people of Lebanon: Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger. They are sacrificing your well-being to serve the aggressive purposes of Iran. Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for all terror activity emanating from Lebanon against Israel.

“Like any other nation, Israel maintains the right to defend itself. We will continue to do all that is necessary to defend ourselves against Iran’s efforts to use Lebanon, Syria and Gaza as forward terror bases to attack Israel… I have asked Israel’s delegation to the UN to call on the UN Security Council to convene an urgent meeting against Hezbollah and its actions.” he added.

The below video shows Hezbollah operatives who climbed through the tunnel after IDF soldiers placed cameras inside earlier in the day; once the operatives realized they were being filmed, and the camera began to self-destruct, they were seen quickly backing out.

Netanyahu also said that Israeli military action in Syria in recent years has reduced the number of Iranian forces operating in that country by “tens of percentage points” — and that Israeli forces are also working to thwart Iranian forces operating in Lebanon as well.

The prime minister added that Operation Northern Shield “will continue until the outcome is achieved.”

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