Jerusalem (CNN)Israel has launched an operation along its northern border with Lebanon to "expose and thwart cross border tunnels" which it says have been dug by Hezbollah, the Israeli army said on Tuesday.
Israel begins operation to 'expose and thwart' Hezbollah tunnels
Hours after announcing the operation, Israel's military said it had begun work to neutralize such a tunnel near the Israeli town of Metula, which sits right along the border. The military said the tunnel began in a civilian house in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kela, immediately west of Metula.
CNN crews witnessed excavators and heavy machinery operating on the Israeli side of the border wall between the two locations.
The tunnel entered Israeli territory, the military said, but it did not pose an immediate threat to Israeli civilians.
Its cross-sectional dimensions were 2 meters by 2 meters, IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a conference call with reporters, making it taller and wider than tunnels dug by Hamas under the Israel-Gaza border. The tunnel's length was estimated to be 200 meters, Conricus said.
"This is the first of what are sure to be many cross-border attack tunnels dug from Lebanon by Hezbollah into Israel," Conricus added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement called the tunnels a "gross violation of Israeli sovereignty and of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701," a reference to the resolution that ended the last war between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-funded militant group and political party, in 2006.
Netanyahu said during a press conference on Tuesday evening that he had asked the United States to impose additional sanctions against Hezbollah, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday.
"Hezbollah knows that anyone who harms the state of Israel will pay a heavy price," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also said he would speak with additional world leaders as part of a diplomatic effort in conjunction with the newly announced military operation to identify and neutralize cross-border tunnels. He added that he would also