JERUSALEM – The Israeli prime minister has called on the international community to impose further sanctions on Hezbollah and condemn the Lebanese militant group in response to the discovery of tunnels extending from southern Lebanon to northern Israel.
Israel this week launched an open-ended operation to denounce and oppose what is said to be Hezbollah-built tunnels to infiltrate Israel. The two sides are bitter enemies and in 2006 they fought an inconclusive one-month war.
Benjamin Netanyahu visited the area of operation with a group of ambassadors on Thursday.
"I told the ambassadors that they need to unequivocally condemn this aggression against us by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas and, of course, also to strengthen sanctions against these elements," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also said he would ask the United States Security Council to discuss the matter.
He said that at the end of the operation, the tunnels "will no longer exist and will no longer be effective".
Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, told journalists Thursday that the army is now operating in three areas where tunnels have been discovered.
"We are aware of more tunnels," he said.
He said on Thursday the Israeli northern commander, Major General Yoel Strik, gave the command to the peacekeeping force in Lebanon, a tour of a tunnel that entered Israel.
Strik also presented to UNIFIL a map with the location of a second tunnel, along with houses in Lebanon that Israel claims are connected to the tunnel. He said that Israel has requested that UNIFIL investigate and "neutralize" the tunnel shaft.
In Lebanon, LBC TV published an audio message saying that some residents of the border village of Kfar Fila received on their cell phones on Thursday warning them to stay away from the tunnels.
"Hezbollah is putting your lives in danger because of digging tunnels," said the Arabic audio message, which seemed to have been sent by Israel. "These tunnels could explode … Anyone close to the tunnels will endanger their lives".
There was no immediate response from the peacekeeping mission.
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