EXCLUSIVE: Identity of Hezbollah operative in cross border tunnel revealed
Ali DIA (AFP)
On Thursday, i24NEWS revealed the identity of an Hezbollah operative caught on camera by Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) in a cross border tunnel on the Lebanese border earlier this week.
An unnamed security official told i24NEWS that the man who appeared on the video from the tunnel was Dr. Imad “Azaladin” Fahs, a commander of the Hezbollah observation unit on the border with Israel, as well as a commander in the tunnel unit.
"Azaladin" who is in his 30's, has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Tehran's University of Technology and is married with two children.
According to the security official, "Azaladin" trained with Mexican drug cartels near the United States border.
Residents in southern Lebanon received text messages from Hezbollah, presenting two options; either cooperate with Hezbollah or evacuate from the area so as not to get involved in a future war.
i24NEWS source thus disputes the claim from Hezbollah which said the two men in the tunnel were drug dealers.
IDF on Tuesday announced it had launched an operation, dubbed "Operation Northern Shield" to prevent and destroy underground tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israeli territory.
On Thursday, a second tunnel was uncovered by the IDF, stretching from Lebanese village of Ramyeh into Israeli territory near the village of Zarit. The first tunnel was discovered in the northern Israeli village of Metulla.
The IDF said that Israel has seen over the years a concerted effort by Iran-backed Hezbollah to dig such tunnels, though emphasized that none were yet operational nor posed an imminent threat to Israeli civilians.
"The digging of the cross-border attack tunnels that the IDF has discovered, before the attack tunnels became operational and posed an imminent threat to the safety of Israeli civilians, constitutes a flagrant and severe violation of Israeli sovereignty," the army said in a statement.
#EXCLUSIVE: Security sources revealed first to i24NEWS the identity of the man in the cross-border terror tunnel clip shown at @netanyahu's press conference about Operation #NorthernShield. @MatthiasInbar gives the details to @NuritBen: pic.twitter.com/VCoeHBHtTi— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 6, 2018
"The Hezbollah terror organization, which is responsible for digging the crossborder attack tunnels, continues its activity that is supported and funded by Iran, to establish its terror infrastructure against Israeli civilians."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a group of ambassadors on Thursday through a tour of Israel’s north, urging them to “condemn the aggression unequivocally and intensify the sanctions” against Hezbollah.
The cross-border tunnels “are wider and larger, and their goal is to transfer battalions, large forces, into Israeli territory, in order to come in and carry out a killing spree and kidnappings and to capture villages,” the Israeli premier stated.
“Anyone who attacks us — is taking his life into his hands,” Netanyahu portended, later suggesting that Israel may take action against Lebanon, which he demanded “stop granting permission to use its territory for these attacks on Israel.”
“We are denying our enemies the weapon of tunnels systematically and decisively,” he told the ambassadors. “What we are doing with Hamas and with Hezbollah as well — we’re doing everything we need to do.”
Never remiss in raising the ultimate foe, Iran, he hailed Israel's great efforts as the single army in the world to take it on.
“What we’re facing is one big enemy. That enemy is called Iran," Netanyahu said.
'We will act as much as whoever attacks us, with a target on his head. I told the ambassadors that they should condemn the aggressions of #Iran, Hezbollah and #Hamas unequivocally,' Israeli Prime Minister @netanyahu said on the #Israel-Lebanon border: #NorthernShield pic.twitter.com/KKwfjSsV23— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 6, 2018
Meanwhile, the head of IDF’s northern command Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik met with his counterpart from United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major General Stefano Del Col on Thursday, presenting him with visuals of houses in southern Lebanon where the cross-border tunnels are being dug from leading into Israeli territory.
Strik also requested that UNIFIL will ensure the neutralization of the attack tunnel on its Lebanese side.
“The IDF holds the Lebanese government, the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL responsible for all events transpiring in and emanating from Lebanon and for the implementation of resolution 1701,” the IDF said in a statement following the meeting.
Hours after touring the northern border with IDF, UNIFIL confirmed the existence of a Hezbollah cross border tunnel.
Press Statement: #UNIFIL Head of Mission Maj-Gen Stefano Del Col, along w/ a technical team, today visited a location in northern Israel where the Israel Defense Forces has discovered a tunnel. UNIFIL can confirm the existence of a tunnel at the location. https://t.co/v1PqU9bpgn— UNIFIL (@UNIFIL_) December 6, 2018
Lebanon's Prime Minister designate, Saad Hariri, said on Wednesday that the Israeli operation at the border should not lead to any escalation.
Underlining the fact the Lebanese army had the authority and responsibility to protect its borders, he blasted Israel for its “continued violation of Lebanese airspace and territorial waters.”
Hariri said the issue would be taken up with both UN General Secretariat and Security Council, but stressed his government's "commitment to the full obligations of Resolution 1701 and to the ongoing coordination and cooperation between Lebanese authorities and U.N. forces".
This exclusive was revealed by i24NEWS defense correspondent Matthias Inbar.
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