Israel using ‘passive seismic’ technology to expose Hezbollah’s attack tunnels

IDF says its sophisticated sensors are able to monitor Hezbollah tunnel drilling throughout the northern border area

Israeli soldiers show UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col a Hezbollah tunnel that penetrated Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, on December 6, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli soldiers show UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col a Hezbollah tunnel that penetrated Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, on December 6, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli army on Friday revealed that it has been using “passive seismic” technology to locate the attack tunnels Hezbollah has been digging under the border into Israel.

The IDF this week launched an ongoing operation to locate and destroy the tunnels, and has so far announced that two have been identified. On Tuesday, it released footage from inside the first of the two, with alleged Hezbollah members still inside, and on Thursday asked UNIFIL, the UN force in Lebanon, to deal with the second.

The IDF’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot announced Tuesday that Israel has “in its possession” Hezbollah’s tunnel plans. Military sources have said Israel believes several other cross-border tunnels have yet to be exposed.

An officer in the IDF’s Engineering Corps, Col. Ziv Nimni, told Israel’s Hadashot TV news Friday that the IDF, aware for years of Hezbollah’s tunnel ambitions, utilizes “passive seismic technology” throughout the northern border area in order to locate the tunnels.

The technology enables the IDF to identify where tunnel drilling is taking place — not only in limited, specific areas, but throughout the Israel-Lebanon border area, he said.

The sensors in the ground relay information to sensors at the border fence, as well as to receptors in patrol vehicles along the border, Nimni added.

He said locating and dealing with the tunnels “could take weeks or longer,” but that the IDF was operating as quickly as possible.

Nimni said he felt a tremendous sense of pride that the IDF was proving capable of grappling with the threat. It was “a once in a generation” event, he said, when, hours after the operation began, a camera placed by the IDF in a Hezbollah tunnel — which was being dug toward the northern Israeli town of Metulla — filmed Hezbollah operatives inside the tunnel. The camera was protected by a small explosive device, which detonated when a Hezbollah operative approached it, sending him hurriedly backwards.

Nimni assessed that Hezbollah had not reached the stage where it could utilize the tunnels. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that Hezbollah planned to send “entire battalions” into Israel, to seize territory and kill and kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers. Netanyahu noted that the tunnels were far wider than tunnels dug by the Hamas terror group under the border into Israel from Gaza.

Nimni said Hezbollah, which has remained silent since Tuesday on the Israeli counteraction, “is watching what we’re doing,” and that there was potential for military confrontation. Israeli ground, air, and sea forces have been deployed to the north as the IDF engineers and related teams tackle the tunnels, but military sources have indicated they see a low potential for escalation at the moment.

This could change if Israel decides it needs to tackle the tunnels inside Lebanese territory, which it has not done so far, or if Israel decides to tackle Hezbollah’s large arsenal of missiles, which some analysts believe could be a next step.

Senior Likud Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Hadashot on Friday night that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Hezbollah terror group, was “embarrassed” by the intelligence breakthrough that has seen Israel expose his “audacious” cross-border tunneling aggression.

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