IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told reporters Tuesday night at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv that Operation Northern Shield is projected to last several weeks.
The operation, launched at dawn Tuesday morning, is to be led by IDF Northern Command head Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick, he said.
“This morning we started an action to thwart Hezbollah’s invasion into our territory, to improve our security reality in the north … to strike and to continue to strike the Iranian entrenchment [there],” he said.
The operation, approved by Israel’s security cabinet on November 7, was launched “once the conditions were ripe,” he said; before the attack tunnels pentrating into Israeli territory had become operational and “an immediate and direct threat to northern communities and army bases.”
Since 2014, when the issue of attack tunnels in southern Israel was a central issue in the Gaza war known as Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has built a “highly advanced operational, technological engineering and intelligence capability to neutralize attack tunnels both in the north and in the south,” he said.
Heads of northern Israeli communities were informed of this morning’s launch of Operation Northern Shield ahead of time, Eizenkot added. He praised them for showing “responsibility” by refraining from leaking the information, and called on Israelis throughout the country to “feel safe, continue their daily routines and continue traveling to the north.”