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UN Peacekeepers Confirm 3rd Tunnel Dug under Lebanese-Israeli Border

UN Peacekeepers Confirm 3rd Tunnel Dug under Lebanese-Israeli Border

Thursday, 25 April, 2019 - 17:30
An Israeli soldier lowers a camera down a hole into a border tunnel dug from Lebanon into Israel, as seen on the Israeli side of the border, near the town of Metula December 19, 2018. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon confirmed Thursday that tunnel discovered earlier this year by Israel had crossed the Lebanese-Israeli border.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said the tunnel was the third to have crossed the "Blue Line", a demarcation line drawn by the UN to mark Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000.

Israel in January accused the Lebanese Hezbollah party of having dug what it described as the deepest, "longest and most detailed" tunnel it had discovered.

The Israeli army said the tunnel from the Lebanese town of Ramyeh -- just 800 meters (yards) from the border -- reached a few dozen meters into Israel, and descended to 55 meters underground.

"UNIFIL's independent assessment confirms that this tunnel crosses the blue line in violation of resolution 1701", which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, it said.

"UNIFIL has informed the Lebanese authorities about the violation and has requested urgent follow-up actions," the UN force said in a statement.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war. Israel is currently building a wall along the 130 kilometer (80 mile) frontier to block Hezbollah attempts to infiltrate.

Since early December, Israel has said it discovered six tunnels, destroying them either with explosives or by filling them with a cement-like material.

Five have been confirmed to exist by UNIFIL.

"Of these, three tunnels have been found to be crossing the blue line," the peacekeeping force said.

Israel alleges Hezbollah had planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill its civilians or soldiers, and to seize Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.

On January 26, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said it had taken Israel "years" to discover some of the tunnels, but did not specify who had constructed them.

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly carried out air strikes against what it says are Hezbollah weapons convoys in war-torn Syria next door, where the group is backing regime forces.

The United States has designated Hezbollah a "terrorist" group since 1997, while the European Union blacklisted its military arm in 2013.

The United States on Monday offered a $10 million reward for information that would disrupt the group's finances.

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