We have covered many examples of Hamas attack tunnels from Gaza crossing into southern Israel being discovered and destroyed.

While there have long been rumors that Hezbollah was constructing tunnels under the border with Lebanon in the North, such reports were based mostly on the logic of Hezbollah’s tactics. Hezbollah has been threatening for years that in the next war it would capture part of northern Israel, even if only for a short time.

Israel has been busy building border barriers, including tall concrete walls and carving cliffs into hillsides to slow down an above-ground advance. The best method to quickly get terrorists into Israel would be for them to emerge from tunnels in Israel.

Israel announced earlier today what it calls Operation Northern Shield to destroy cross-border Hezbollah tunnels. The announcement came with a media and social media blitz.

The Times of Israel reports:

Announcing the launch of Operation Northern Shield, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said “a number of tunnels” had penetrated Israeli territory and forces were working on the Israeli side of the frontier to destroy them.

“We see Hezbollah’s actions as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” he said.

The military said it believed these tunnels were for offensive purposes, unlike the tunnels and underground bunkers used by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which were primarily used for its defensive strategies.

Conricus said the tunnels “are not yet operationally ready” and therefore did not pose an “immediate threat.” ….

The IDF operation began in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning. The military declared the area around the community of Metulla a closed military zone, but gave no other special instructions to Israeli civilians in the area.

Readers may recall that I visited Metula in 20-13, and described the precarious position of this peninsula surrounded by Lebanon and Hezbollah on three sides, Metula and the fake Hezbollah village.

(Metula, Israel – Close Up Map View)

During my visit, the Hezbollah positions nearby were visible on the hilltop. My guide indicated the huge dirt mounts were both defensive and the result of digging.

(Hezbollah fortifications overlooking Metula, Israel)(photo Hadar Sela 2013)

According to a map and information released by the IDF, one of the tunnels started at Kfar Kila (left side of map above) until a point over 130 feet into Israel:

80+ft underground
6ft wide 6ft tall
130ft into Israeli territory
This Hezbollah attack tunnel extends from under a home in southern Lebanon, 600+ feet through solid rock and into Israel.

https://twitter.com/IDF/status/1069923413517578240

The IDF has posted several videos, including this one showing the inside of one of the tunnels.

And this video showing Hezbollah terrorists entering a tunnel in Lebanon and coming face-to-face with an IDF camera (see our prior post also)

This video released by a Hezbollah affiliated news station shows the Israelis working on the tunnels. It’s Hezbollah’s way of letting everyone know they are watching:

What’s most interesting is not that Israel found the tunnels. That apparently was done long ago.

This aerial video shows the Hezbollah digging operation:

But that Israel unveiled the tunnels and commenced the operation just as a potential Lebanon war against Iran and Hezbollah was becoming a possibility. Iran’s reportedly has commenced direct shipment of advance missiles and missile parts to Hezbollah in Lebanon by commercial flights, bypassing Syria. By avoiding Syria, Iran avoids the Israeli ability, carried out hundreds of times, of hitting the shipments while before reaching Hezbollah. Iran also reportedly is setting up factories in Lebanon to produce precision missiles for use against Israel, avoiding the need to transport the missiles and guidance systems.

Missiles, not Hezbollah terrorists sneaking under the border, is the real threat to Israel.

So why roll out such a public operation regarding the tunnels?

Netanyahu’s political enemies claim he’s trying to use this to distract from domestic political problems, including a police recommendation that he be indicted for bribery, but that doesn’t fit the timeline. As reported by The Jerusalem Post, the decision as to Operation Norther Shield was taken weeks ago, and may explain Israel’s restraint in the fact of Hamas rockets from Gaza:

With the announcement Tuesday that the IDF launched an operation to destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels that have penetrated into the the Galilee, some of the frustratingly enigmatic comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month during the most recent Gaza crisis and how to respond to massive Hamas rocket fire started to clear up.

Netanyahu referred repeatedly during that crisis to things that he could not share with the public, information and considerations that he knew and had but simply could not tell a people hungry to know everything.

At the annual memorial service for David Ben-Gurion on November 14, as 460 rockets had just fallen on southern Israel over a 48-hour period and there was a public clamor for more intensive IDF action, Netanyahu said that in routine times, a leader has to be attentive to the feelings of the public, “and we are a wise people.”

But in times of emergencies, he said, “in times of fateful decisions having to do with security, the public cannot be a partner to the decisive considerations that need to be hidden from the enemy at all cost.”

At these times, Netanyahu said, without elaboration, “leadership is standing up to criticism, when you know secret and sensitive things that you can not share with the people of Israel, and in this case with the residents of the south.”

The discovery of tunnels running from homes and other civilian structures is a reminder that Hezbollah has turned southern Lebanon into one large human shield, with virtually every village hiding rockets and tunnels. Exposing Hezbollah’s human shield strategy will be important to the international media and diplomatic battles should war break out, as almost all of Southern Lebanon has become a legitimate military target. We explored this factor in 2016, Israel: If Hezbollah unleashes its huge missile arsenal, Lebanon is toast.

My view is that the very public exposure of Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels was meant to prepare the public and the international community also for the possibility of a wider war. That could be sparked by an incident, as in 2006 when Hezbollah crossed the border and killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Or it could be that Iran keeps pushing its luck in Lebanon, forcing Israel to take out the advanced missile factories and missile stocks Iran has supplied to Hezbollah.

Either way, Israeli is better off with the tunnels having been destroyed, and the true aggressive nature of Hezbollah having been exposed again.