MARJAYOUN/ BEIRUT: The Israeli army said Sunday that it has discovered a fourth “Hezbollah attack tunnel,” nearly two weeks after it launched an operation to find and block tunnels allegedly crossing into the Jewish state from southern Lebanon.
In a series of tweets, the Israeli army’s Arabic language spokesperson Avichay Adraee said that over the weekend, the military found another tunnel leading into northern Israel.
“The tunnel is under the [army’s] control and doesn’t constitute a threat,” he said, without providing details on the tunnel’s exact location.
He said that the Israeli military had “rigged the tunnel with explosives,” as it had with the previous three tunnels, and that “anyone who enters it from the Lebanese side would be putting themselves in danger.”
Caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil visited the border area in Marjayoun Sunday, expressing support for the Lebanese Army.
"Lebanon is protected by its Army and resistance," Bassil said in a tweet. "And what is more important is that Lebanon is protected by its diversity and pluralism that defeat the unilateralism and racism of Israel."
The Israeli army meanwhile continued excavations near the Fatima Gate, the former border crossing in Marjayoun’s Kfar Kila, with Israeli flags posted in the now militarized zone.
Israeli excavations also resumed east of Mais al-Jabal after the Israeli army last week briefly withdrew its excavators from the area. Five excavators accompanied by Israeli soldiers deployed in Mais al-Jabal as UNIFIL peacekeepers monitored the situation.
Security sources told The Daily Star that the Israeli operations did not go beyond the technical fence or the Blue Line that demarcates the border and were within Israeli territories.
The Lebanese Army nevertheless boosted its presence in the area, erecting a metal barrier out of fear that visitors to the border would unknowingly cross into Israel.
In a show of support for occupied Palestine, about a hundred young men headed to the border in Mais al-Jabal and held a large Palestinian flag.
They held banners written with both Arabic and Hebrew, visible to the Israeli soldiers just beyond the border, that vowed they would one day “cross over this land.”
Ahmad Mustafa, one of the participants, said, “We tell the Israelis: Be careful not to mess with us.”
According to the state-run National News Agency, UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said that the Israeli army had informed UNIFIL of the fourth tunnel. Tenenti was quoted as saying that the U.N. peacekeeping mission was “fully engaged with all sides to ensure stability in the area.”
UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of two tunnels in the border region since Israel launched Operation Northern Shield on Dec. 4 to find and destroy the “Hezbollah attack tunnels,” though the U.N. mission did not say who had dug them.
Hezbollah, meanwhile, has not commented on the allegations.