IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says the operation is due to last several weeks and will be led by the head of the IDF Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick.
“This morning we started an action to thwart Hezbollah’s intrusion into our territory, to improve our security reality in the north… to strike and to continue to strike Iranian entrenchment in the north,” he says at a press conference.
In an apparent effort to preempt allegations that the decision to launch Northern Shield was connected to the recent calls by police to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Eisenkot said the military came to the security cabinet with the recommendation to start the operation “once the conditions were ripe” approximately a month ago.
According to Eisenkot, the cabinet approved the operation on November 7.
The army chief says Northern Shield was launched before the tunnels became operational and “became an immediate and direct threat to northern communities and army bases.”
Eisenkot says that since the 2014 Gaza war, in which the threat of Hamas tunnels was a central issue, the Israeli military has “built a highly advanced operational, technological engineering and intelligence capability to neutralize attack tunnels, both in the north and in the south.”
The army chief says that the heads of communities in northern Israel were informed of the operation ahead of time and lauded them for showing “responsibility” by not revealing that it was poised to take place.
The IDF chief calls on Israelis to “feel safe, to continue their daily routines and to continue traveling to the north.”
— Judah Ari Gross