Photo Credit: IDF
IDF soldiers in Operation Northern Shield

Staring Tuesday morning as a surprise operation aiming to neutralize Hezbollah terror tunnels on the northern border, the IDF’s Northern Shield campaign continues to expose and neutralize the tunnels, and is expected to continue for several weeks and even months.

“We embarked on the operation in order to improve the security situation in the north and to deny Iran an established presence in the northern arena,” Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Tuesday, adding, “I call on all the citizens of the state to continue their routine lives with full security.”

Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot in a situation assessment meeting, Dec. 4, 2018 / IDF
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The operational activity will continue along the northern border under the Northern Command, with the participation of Military Intelligence, and Mapat (the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure).

“The operation was launched before the tunnels became an immediate threat to the residents of the north,” Eizenkot explained. “We have Hezbollah’s tunnel program. Since the end of 2014, an intelligence, operational, engineering and technological effort has been sustained to locate the tunnels that penetrate into Israel.”

Commander of the Northern Front, Major General Yoel Strick / IDF

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who promised a 7 PM speech yesterday chose instead to release a video instead, warning that Israel would face a strong response should it decides to attack Lebanon. The video showed maps with strategic locations inside Israel which the terror group promised to riddle with its missiles as reprisal for any Israeli aggression. The video ends with Nasrallah warning: “If you dare to attack, you will regret it.”

So far, IDF forces appear to have stuck to the Israeli side of the blue line, but it is conceivable that they’d be cutting in and out of Lebanese territory in their pursuit of Hezbollah tunnels. The IDF believes Nasrallah would not respond to these provocations.

Incidentally, Tehran Times ran a story on Tuesday titled, “Why are the Zionists trying to assassinate Nasrallah?” One of the reasons the newspaper offers is that “the Zionists know full-well that Nasrallah is determined to take back the Golan Heights from the Zionists. The Zionists fear rises as more areas in the southern part of Syria, which sits close to the Golan Heights, gets clear from the infidel groups.”

Cogent enough.

The article is an Iranian response to General Roei Leivi, who wrote in Maarkhot, the IDF bimonthly bulletin, a cover story titled “To Kill Rommel,” advocating the elimination by commando forces of terrorist leaders, particularly Nasrallah, the way the allies attempted to eliminate Wehrmacht General Erwin Rommel.

On Tuesday night, the IDF Spokesperson presented a video shot inside a tunnel of terror that penetrated some 40 yards into Israeli territory near Metula, the northernmost city in Israel. The video shows Hezbollah men approaching the camera to examine it, and escaping as soon as the it explodes.

Commander of the Galilee formation, Brigadier General Rafi Milo / IDF

Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the video yesterday, declaring that “this tunnel will not achieve its goal, and so will the rest of the terror tunnels. Hezbollah’s intention was to infiltrate our territory with terrorists through these tunnels. This is a threat of scope, intensity and even boldness that we have not seen before.”

When Netanyahu was asked if the timing of the operation had anything to do with recent developments in his coalition (down 5 members) and his own legal situation (police investigators recommended his indictment), he said it was kishkush (nonsense).

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