IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot met Sunday with Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in a statement.
The Israeli military Chief emphasized in the meeting that the Hezbollah attack tunnels penetrating into Israel represent a clear violation of UNSCR 1701. He also said that the tunnels were meant to serve as a central component in Hezbollah's surprise attack plan on Israel.
Eizenkot updated Del Col on the progress of the operation, noting the important role that UNIFIL can play in neutralizing the tunnels from the Lebanese side and preventing Hezbollah's violation of the UN resolution. The Chief of Staff underlined that the Lebanese government is responsible for Hezbollah's tunnel activity in southern Lebanon.
Del Col, who visited the site of the tunnel exposed in the Metulla region, said that based on the information he had, UNIFIL could confirm that there was, in fact, a tunnel on the Israeli-Lebanese border. UNIFIL forces reported they were cooperating with the sides to continue monitoring the issue, and would send their information to the relevant Lebanese officials
According to the IDF Spokesman, the Israeli forces are operating in three areas along the border: the area across from Kafr Kila (i.e., the Metulla region in the eastern sector), the area across from the Labbouneh area (i.e., the Hanita-Rosh Haniqra region in the western sector), and the area across from Ramyeh (i.e., the Zar’it-Shtula region in the central sector).
The commander of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, attended an Israeli-UNIFIL-Lebanese meeting at UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura on October 5. In the meeting, Maj. Gen. Strick gave the UNIFIL commander a map of the village of Ramyeh (a Shi’ite village in the central sector of south Lebanon) showing groups of houses from which another Hezbollah terrorist tunnel was dug penetrating into Israeli territory. He said the tunnel had already crossed the border but did not yet pose an immediate threat to Israeli civilians. Strick demanded UNIFIL make sure the tunnel would be neutralized on the Lebanese side of the border.
On December 7, 2018, Del Col met with Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese army, at the Lebanese army headquarters in Yarze, southeast of Beirut.
After the first two days of the operation, during which the Lebanese media dealt extensively with the IDF activity in south Lebanon, coverage waned somewhat, the report said.
Hezbollah and its affiliated media outlets al-Manar and al-Mayadeen reported very little original information, preferring to quote the Israeli media. Senior Hezbollah figures, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, have not yet directly related to the events. Qassem Na’im, Nasrallah’s deputy, interviewed by an Iranian newspaper, did not directly mention Operation Northern Shield.
Ghassan Jowad, a Lebanese commentator, told al-Nashra TV that Hezbollah’s silence in the face of the Israeli media coverage was a traditional Hezbollah strategy, and the organization is currently studying the events on the ground and learning Israel’s intentions.
The Lebanese daily newspaper al-Jumhuria reported that Elizabeth Richard, the American ambassador to Lebanon, had paid a visit to the presidential palace and transmitted serious warnings to the Lebanese regime from Israel, which stated that “There is a limit to restraint.” Senior Western diplomats expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the Lebanese government to the issue of Hezbollah’s tunnels. They want the Lebanese government to solve the problem with Hezbollah and not demand that Israel implement UN Resolution 1701.