In the recent months, tensions have been escalating between Israel and Iranian-backed Shia Hezbollah, who last battled a war in 2006. Last week, the Israeli army launched operations to expose the cross-border attack tunnels dug by the Lebanese militia.
Hezbollah has been using a relatively distinct strategy for fighting wars, by constructing underground tunnels with impressive specifications, including small rooms, lamps, kitchen, prayer rooms, as well as a command centre to exchange orders through radio.
However, the Israeli army discovered the Hezbollah tunnels running underneath the border and into Israel, and announced to attack all of them.
One of these tunnels is located in Mleeta in southern Lebanon. During the nine years it was used by the Lebanon militia to attack the occupying Israeli troops, the tunnel remained undiscovered. At present, this tunnel is a part of an extensively interactive museum complex that glorifies that war.
A spokesman for the museum, Ahmed Mansour said, “Israel didn’t know about this tunnel until we opened it up to the public in 2010. It was kept hidden for all that time.”
While the underground activities are under latest investigations, the Mleeta museum stands as a reminder to the crucial role played by Hezbollah tunnels in the past, and is likely to be seen in the future as well.
According to an Israeli military spokesman, Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, the operations on detected tunnels would be carried out inside Israel and not beyond the border.
Israel is carrying out “tactical preparations to expose Hezbollah’s offensive cross-border tunnel project.” It released a video, where digging activity and pile-driving equipment at work in unidentified locations can be seen.
The Israeli military stated that although the tunnels were not yet operational, they posed “an imminent threat” to Israeli civilians, and constituted “a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty”.
Israel has enhanced its military presence and has prepared itself for the potential outcomes. According to an Israeli source, the operation might take weeks to complete.
The discovery of Hezbollah tunnels has raised tensions along the Israeli border, which has been at peace since 2006. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called these tunnels “an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”
He said, “These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with a direct support and funding from Iran. They were built with one purpose in mind: to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women, and children.”