Run or block it? IDF film shows Lebanese reactions as cement pours out of tunnel

Some men flee, then others try to stop and clear away substance flowing out of what Israeli military says is an entry point in Lebanon to a Hezbollah cross-border attack tunnel

The IDF on Friday released footage of what it said were people in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila reacting when an unspecified “liquid,” pumped by the Israeli military into a Hezbollah attack tunnel, flowed out of the opening and into the street.

Hebrew-language media reported that the IDF used cement to block the tunnels, and that some of the individuals seen in the footage responding to its flow at their end of the tunnel were members of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

In the film, some people can be seen fleeing from the thick substance, while others try to remove it using a bulldozer or stop the spread of the viscous material by dumping rocks to seal the area.

The IDF on Thursday said it had destroyed all of the attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Kafr Kila into the northern Israeli border town of Metulla, but was still tackling such tunnels in other border areas.

The army released photos and video footage that it said proved “without a doubt” that the tunnels were dug from Lebanon into Israel. It also revealed some of its methods to seal the passages — including pumping the “liquid” into the tunnels, which, in some cases, gave away the location of the tunnels’ openings in civilian areas of southern Lebanon.

While it has finished its detection of tunnels from Kafr Kila, the IDF clarified that the broader Northern Shield Operation was ongoing. The mission, which entered its 24th day on Friday, will continue in order to locate and eliminate additional underground passages dug into Israel from other southern Lebanese villages.

In a phone briefing to reporters, IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus estimated that the army still needed an additional “few weeks” to complete the operation to destroy the Hezbollah-dug tunnels.

Footage released by the IDF on December 28, 2018, shows men fleeing fluids the army says it used to seal cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah flowing into the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Conricus detailed the two methods the army has been using to neutralize the underground passages: the use of explosives to blow them up — blasts that have been documented in footage the army has distributed to the media — and the pumping of fluid into the tunnels that renders them impenetrable.

Conricus said the army has been able to pinpoint the origin points of the tunnels when the fluid seeped through to the openings on the Lebanese side.

“This fact points to Hezbollah’s use of civilian structures in the heart of built-up areas in southern Lebanon, endangering its citizens as human shields in grave violation of [UN Security Council] Resolution 1701,” the army said, referring to the UN measure ending the 2006 Lebanon War.

A photo released by the IDF on December 27, 2018, shows fluids the army says it used to seal cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah coming out of a civilian building in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila. (IDF Spokesperson)

Conricus declined to specify the number of tunnels destroyed from Kafr Kila or the number of remaining tunnels left to neutralize in the entire operation.

One of those tunnels was found to have been dug underneath a chicken coop, the army spokesman said.

Citing a 2013 Hezbollah propaganda movie, Conricus claimed the tunnels were part of a three-pronged plan by the Iran-backed terror group to conquer the Galilee. Pointing to the video issued by the terror group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, the IDF spokesman said the invasion was slated to include a massive barrage of fire on northern Israel, a ground invasion by Hezbollah special forces and a stealthy underground invasion through the organization’s attack tunnels.

Conricus pointed out that when the movie introduced Hezbollah’s plan to conquer the Galilee, the focus was other areas of northern Israel that it intended to attack, but Metulla was omitted.

“This indicated that they were trying to surprise us there,” Conricus said, regarding the tunnels discovered recently in the northern Israeli town.

A photo released by the IDF on December 27, 2018, shows fluids the army says it used to seal cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah coming out of a civilian building in the southern Lebanese village of Kafr Kila. (IDF Spokesperson)

The army spokesman clarified that while Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for the attack tunnels being dug from its sovereign territory, it is clear that Hezbollah was digging the passages.

“The uncovering and destruction of the tunnels has brought significant harm to Hezbollah’s ability to realize its plans,” the IDF said in a statement on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the IDF announced that it had found a fifth subterranean passage dug from Lebanon since the start of Operation Northern Shield. The latest tunnel was dug from Ayta ash Shab, a village across the border from the farming community of Shtula, and entered Israeli territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Ayta ash Shab is located southwest of Kafr Kila. The IDF said the tunnel was found “a number of days ago” and has now been destroyed.

Regional council heads and the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Syria were notified ahead of the explosion, the military said.

The announcement by the military comes a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was close to wrapping up the operation to find and eliminate the tunnels. Netanyahu made the comments while touring the northern border with other lawmakers, as they unofficially kicked off a campaign for re-election in which national security is expected to be a central issue.

Israel has said it believes the tunnels were meant to be used by the Iran-backed terror group as a surprise component of an opening salvo in a future war, to allow dozens or hundreds of its fighters into Israel, alongside a mass infiltration of operatives above ground and the launching of rockets, missiles and mortar shells at northern Israel.

The UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL confirmed that at least two of the tunnels crossed into Israel and were therefore a violation of the UN resolution that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, but did not confirm Israel’s allegations they were dug by Hezbollah. United Nation peacekeepers have stepped up patrols since the launch of the operation to ensure the frontier remains calm.

The operation is taking place close to Lebanese territory, sometimes on the north side of the border wall, albeit still inside Israeli territory.

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