Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Israel has launched an operation to destroy tunnels built by Hezbollah across the border from southern Lebanon, the military announced early Tuesday.
Operation Northern Shield will "expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel," Israel Defense Forces said in a post on Twitter.
"This is a defensive operation meant at destroying attack tunnels, crossing into Israeli territory, built by Hezbollah," Yuval Rotem, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, posted on Twitter. "Hezbollah is a dangerous terror organization, at the service of the ayatollahs in Teheran. Israel is committed to protect its citizens and its territory.
The operation in the Meluta area will target an unspecified number of tunnels that were not ready to be used, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, according to The Jerusalem Post. The area is a closed military zone with no civilians told to evauate.
Israel has been constructing fences, clearing vegetation and creating steep cliffs to deter invading forces along a roughly 7-mile stretch of its border with Lebanon since 2015.
"The digging of tunnels constitutes a blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty," IDF Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said in a report by The New York Times.
Hezbollah is supported by the majority of the Shiite population in Lebanon. Manelis said the Lebanese Armed Forces is not capable of controlling what occurs in southern Lebanon.
"This is also more proof of the grave violations by Hezbollah, which blatantly ignores UN resolutions, especially Resolution 1701, and operates from villages in southern Lebanon, while harming the state of Lebanon and its citizens," Manelis said. "The Hezbollah terrorist organization, which is behind the digging of the tunnels, continues to operate with the support and funding of Iran in order to carry out terror activity against Israeli citizens."