World Bulletin / News Desk
The Israeli army is keeping up a multi-million- dollar search operation for cross-border tunnels allegedly dug by Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group into the self-proclaimed Jewish state despite having found no evidence thus far, according to Israeli military sources.
Israel's Channel 2 quoted on Tuesday an anonymous Israeli military official as saying that the army had spent some $8.5 million in recent months searching for tunnels near the northern border with Lebanon with advanced equipment following claims by Israeli citizens in border towns who said they hear sounds of "suspicious" digging near their homes.
"Thus far, search operations have shown no proof of underground tunnels on the northern border," the source reportedly told Channel 2.
"But the Israeli army is maintaining its [search] operations as it still does not rule out the possibility," the source added.
One Israeli who lives close to the northern border told Channel 2 that his house occasionally shook and that he frequently saw cement mixers operating "surreptitiously" on the Lebanese side of the border.
"It is very suspicious," he said. "I am certain that there are tunnels."
Earlier this week, Israeli Colonel Dan Goldfus told Channel 2 that the Israeli army was preparing for the possibility of "a very violent war" with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, claiming the Shiite group had set up rocket launchers near the border.
He also cited claims by northern residents who say they have heard sounds of tunnel-digging under their homes.
In mid-July, unknown elements fired two rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel, prompting retaliatory artillery fire from Israel at Lebanese border towns.
The destruction of cross-border tunnels from the Gaza Strip had been one of the stated objectives of Israel's recent military onslaught on the territory, in which over 2,100 Palestinians were killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said that Israeli forces had destroyed 32 Gaza tunnels during the offensive, but could not guarantee that all of them had been destroyed.
Israel's 51-day onslaught on the Gaza Strip ended on August 26 with the announcement of an open-ended cease-fire deal with Palestinian resistance factions in the blockaded strip.
The devastating offensive left some 2,147 Gazans dead and 11,000 injured – the vast majority of them civilians – while leaving thousands of residential structures in ruins.
According to Israeli figures, 67 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed over the course of the operation – the highest military death toll suffered by Israel since it lost 119 troops in its 33-day war with Hezbollah in 2006.Last Mod: 09 Eylül 2014, 14:05