IDF camera explodes as Hezbollah men approach

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning that anyone who tries to attack Israel "will pay a heavy price".

The IDF launched "Operation Northern Shield" on Tuesday to discover and eliminate attack tunnels constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel. Had the tunnels not been detected, Radwan terror cells could have made their way through the tunnels, underneath Israel's extensive border defenses (which include an array of sensors, an above-ground barrier, and artificial cliffs), and entered northern Israel.

Following the 2014 war between Israel and Gaza, in which the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas used cross-border attack tunnels, the army said it found "Hezbollah and Hamas share knowledge" and soon after began intensive work to prevent tunnels from Lebanon. "I will discuss with Mike Pompeo a series of regional developments, as well as the steps we are taking together to block the aggression of Iran and its proxies in the north", Netanyahu told reporters before boarding.

Israel said the Iranian-backed Shia militant group had been building the tunnels so its forces could infiltrate into the Jewish state from southern Lebanon. He adds that military officials are urging people to go about their business as normal, saying the tunnels are not in use.

The situation appeared calm on the Lebanese side of the border where United Nations peacekeepers and Lebanese troops were deployed as usual, a Reuters journalist there said.

The Israel Defense Forces says it's now working to destroy the tunnels.

The military did not disclose how many tunnels snake into Israeli territory from Lebanon nor what tools it was using to deal with the threat, although it said the operation could last for weeks.

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"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.

Since then, Hezbollah has become one of the main supporting actors in the war in Syria and tensions with Israel have remained high.

The military said in a statement it had "enhanced its presence and readiness in the Northern Command and is prepared for various scenarios". Israel's border with Lebanon has been relatively quiet in the years since, but Israel has continued to identify the Shiite militant group and its expanding weapons cache of tens of thousands of rockets as a major threat.

In 2013, the army acted on reports that Hezbollah was digging tunnels, but failed to locate any, he said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and deliveries of advanced arms to Hezbollah.

This picture taken on December 4, 2018, from the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila shows a view of Israeli machinery operating behind the border wall in Israel (R).

Neither side appears interested in another full-fledged confrontation like the 2006 war, but any skirmish could spark an all-out conflict.