Israel 'assumes' Hezbollah has tunnelled across Lebanon border
Israel believes the militant group Hezbollah has probably dug tunnels across the border from Lebanon in preparation for any future war although it has no conclusive evidence, an Israeli army general said on Wednesday.
Israel's vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war against Hamas in Gaza in July and August. What began as shelling exchanges with Hamas escalated into a ground offensive after Palestinian militants used dozens of secret passages dug from Gaza into Israel to launch surprise attacks.
Residents of northern Israel, who were battered by Hezbollah rockets during a month-long war in 2006, have at times reported underground noises suggesting that guerrillas were burrowing across the frontier in a new tactic. The Israeli military says searches it has carried out have turned up nothing.
"We have no positive information meaning that there are tunnels. The situation is not similar to what there was around the Gaza Strip," Major-General Yair Golan, commander of Israeli forces on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts, told Army Radio.
"That said, this idea of going below ground is not foreign to Lebanon and is not foreign to Hezbollah and so we have to suppose as a working assumption that there are tunnels. These have to be looked for and prepared for."
Hezbollah does not comment on its military capabilities. Spurred by the Gaza experience, the Israelis say they hope to develop effective tunnel-hunting technologies within two years.
Golan said Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in Syria, appeared unlikely to seek a renewed conflict with Israel.
Were that to happen, he said, Israel would hit Lebanese targets hard...