The Israel Defense Forces’ Northern Command has awarded citations to the unit that uncovered and destroyed Hezbollah’s attack tunnels that penetrated into Israeli territory, the military said.
In a ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the conclusion of Operation Northern Shield, military citations were awarded to an officer with the rank of major, who could only be identified by the initial of his first name, Y, and to the Engineering Corps’s Yahalom Unit, that detected and destroyed the tunnels. The military said Northern Shield took four years from planning to completion.
“The operation stripped Hezbollah of an important component of its offensive plan, and helped strengthen Israel’s security on its northern border. Many different forces played a part in the operation, and the cooperation between them contributed to fulfilling the mission with efficiency, power and determination,” an IDF statement said.
During the operation, Israeli soldiers worked mere meters from Hezbollah operatives across the border in Lebanon. Israel launched the operation last December 4 and ended it on January 13, having uncovered and destroyed six passages.
On Monday, recently retired IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said Israel came close to all-out conflict with Hezbollah during his tenure and that tensions with the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group almost erupted into war on more than one occasion. Operation Northern Shield was concluded at the end of his four-year tenure.
Israel last fought a war with Hezbollah in 2006 but tensions along the northern border have remained high and Israeli jets have for years carried out airstrikes in Syria to prevent weapons transfers to the group.
Hezbollah has denied that Israel’s destruction of the tunnels was a major blow to the group’s operations.
“The uncovering of the tunnels does not affect by 10 percent our plans to take over the Galilee. If we decide to do it — even if they’ve destroyed the tunnels — can’t we rebuild them?” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in January.