BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Israel on alert over suspected Hezbollah tunnel activity

(The Daily Star/ Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Israel has stepped up its spying activities along the border with Lebanon, fearing Hezbollah may have built an underground tunnel into the Jewish state, Lebanese security sources said Monday.

A senior security source told The Daily Star that Israel was increasingly worried that Hezbollah might have established a passage connecting south Lebanon to an unspecified area in Israel.

The recent discovery of two tunnels from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip into Israel has increased their fears, the source added.

The Israeli Army has said that one of the recently discovered tunnels was packed with explosives and stretched tens of meters into the Jewish state.

The source said Israeli concerns Hezbollah might have dug a tunnel across the border prompted their military to survey the settlement of Metula, located near the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila.

Over the past 10 days, the Israeli military has also carried out excavation work in various areas along the border, the source said, adding that the teams tried to shield their activity using panels as they lowered probing devices into the earth.

Their activity reportedly drew the suspicion of Lebanese authorities, who are monitoring the situation along the border closely.

The sources also confirmed that the Israelis had set up additional spying devices along the southern village of Houla and its surroundings. One source said the espionage equipment consisted of black square-shaped devices as well as radar equipment placed on top of a 40-meter pole facing the Indonesian peacekeeping force’s post.

Following the 2006 war with Israel, the Jewish state set up tens of watchtowers and columns equipped with surveillance cameras and spying systems for eavesdropping. The devices are placed atop mobile platforms that work on hydraulics to monitor movements.

Earlier this month, the Telecommunications Ministry confirmed that Israel had recently set up spying stations along the Blue Line before and after the 2006 war.

Israel also erected devices that were directed toward major mobile phone stations in Lebanon to wiretap conversations, along with spying balloons that Israel releases to monitor southern Lebanese border villages.

In response to the violation, the Telecoms Parliamentary Committee has said Lebanon will lodge a complaint to the U.N. Security Council over Israel’s breaches of the country’s privacy.

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said last week his party was ready and capable of confronting Israel’s spying activity, which he described as very technologically advanced, if the government failed to do so.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL personnel patrolled the Wazzani area as well as Al-Maysat in coordination with the Lebanese Army Monday. Explosions were heard from inside Israel, where soldiers held military drills with live ammunition as Israeli reconnaissance planes hovered over various southern areas.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 19, 2013, on page 1.

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