Tunnel used for militant attacks had stairs and rail system, Israel says
Israeli troops have found the sixth and final tunnel dug by Hezbollah militants for cross-border attacks, the military said.
Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the final tunnel was the largest one discovered so far – running hundreds of metres from underneath a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory.
Last month, Israel launched an operation to detect and destroy what was described as a vast network of Hezbollah tunnels, and officials say the latest discovery brings the mission to an end.
It is believed the tunnels were allowing militants to sneak across the border and carry out attacks.
Lt Col Conricus said the sixth tunnel started in the border town of Ramyeh and was 55m (180ft) deep and 800m (2600ft) long.
He claimed the tunnel included stairs, a rail system, and a passageway to allow equipment and forces through.
The tunnel will now be destroyed.
Although there are more tunnels on the Lebanese side of the border, the military says this effectively marks the end of the operation.
Lt Col Conricus said: “We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve a month and a half ago.
“According to our intelligence, there are no longer any cross-border attack tunnels into Israel.”
Israel and the UN say the tunnels violate a ceasefire resolution made after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Israel has called on the international community to impose tough sanctions on Hezbollah and act against the state within a state operation in Lebanon.
The military said its forces will remain in the border area to monitor any further underground activity. It said it holds the Lebanese government responsible for everything happening in its territory. UN’s peacekeeping mission Unifil has been updated on the latest position.
It comes as Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare public acknowledgement at his cabinet meeting that Israel was behind a strike on an Iranian weapons storage facility at the Damascus International Airport.
Israel is believed to have carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets throughout the Syrian civil war, but generally avoids commenting about them.
But recently Israel has spoken publicly about thwarting the weapons smuggling into Lebanon and Mr Netanyahu had said “we are committed more than ever to act against Iran in Syria”.
The Prime Minister is facing an early election on 9 April amid a crisis over a military conscription bill and corruption investigations.
Opinion polls in December gave Mr Netanyahu a solid victory, but the allegations may affect that.