"These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran".
Despite the inherent risks, Israel's expectations for further escalation remain relatively low, mostly because the operation, for now, is constrained to the Israeli side and does not involve military attacks - at least not yet.
The operation began early in the morning, when dozens of mechanical diggers assembled northwest of Metula, an Israeli town at the Lebanese border.
The Israeli government demanded global action on Hezbollah on Tuesday for building tunnels to infiltrate and launch attacks against Israel. Gen. Ronen Manelis said in a report by The New York Times.
"Anyone who tries to harm the state of Israel will pay a heavy price", Netanyahu warned Hezbollah.
It is in this context that Israel was able to successful take tunnel detection technology from the Gazan border, where it was used to discover and destroy one Hamas tunnel after another, and bring it to the Lebanese border.
Hezbollah does not recognise Israel's right to exist and has been accused of carrying out a string of bombings and plots against Jewish and Israeli targets around the world over decades.
"The days when Israel could simply attack Lebanon are over, even though the initiative to attack is in Israel's hands", Hassan Hoballah, a member of Hezbollah's political bureau, said on Tuesday. On its Twitter account, the Lebanese army said its forces were "closely" following developments and were "totally prepared to confront any sudden occurrence".
The IDF's very public unveiling of Operation Northern Shield comes after four years of monitoring Hezbollah's activities, Conricus said.
"The overall situation in UNIFIL's area of operation remains calm", Joumana Sayegh, a spokeswoman for the United Nations mission that monitors the border region, said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that an operation launched by the Israeli army on Lebanon's border to destroy suspected Hizbullah tunnels would continue "as long as necessary".
An Israeli military digger destroys the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Netanyahu has pledged to stop Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria and to keep it from transferring advanced weapons to its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The tunnel is said to be 200 meters (656 feet) in length, with 40 meters (131 feet) inside Israel.
Last year, Hezbollah's leader said any future conflict with Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, and there would be "no place that is out of reach of the rockets of the resistance or the boots of the resistance fighters".
Hezbollah, meanwhile, has also been heavily engaged in Syria, where it is battling alongside government forces.
Neither side appears interested quite yet in another full-fledged confrontation like the 2006 war, but any skirmish could spark an all-out conflict along the tense border.
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Earlier this month, the United States imposed its own sanctions on Saudi officials for the same reason. Saudi authorities have vehemently denied the crown prince was involved.
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