Northern Israeli Residents Hire Private Contractor to Dig Up Feared Hezbollah Attack Tunnels (VIDEO)
A group of residents along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon have hired a private excavations contractor to help them find what they fear may be Hezbollah attack tunnels being dug beneath their feet, a local news aggregator said Tuesday.
In Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this summer, the IDF discovered and destroyed 32 attack tunnels dug under Israeli territory, some kilometers-long, reaching close to kibbutz kindergartens and dining rooms.
In turn, a number of concerned residents who live in communities close to the northern border – at times, only several hundred meters away – fearing the Hezbollah threat to copy the Hamas model, have long complained to the army and local authorities that they hear sounds of digging under their land and homes.
Recently a resident in Zarit decided to stop asking others to investigate the potentially catastrophic situation, and hired a contractor to begin boring test holes, to see what may be awaiting them from below.
“The army knows all this and is not doing anything,” Zarit resident Kobi Cohen recently told Channel 10 News. “The army should have already started digging with a D9 tractor, but, instead of providing answers, is leaving us in fear,” Cohen complained.
However, when the contractor arrived, residents said the IDF refused to allow him to start work, unless it was under army auspices and direction.
“They said that they’ll ‘let me know,'” when and if the work would start, said contractor Sasson Yehezkiel. “The IDF took me out, told me ‘do not do it under any circumstances.’ OK, no problem. It would take me just one day with a drilling machine.”
Northern Command officials have reiterated that they are not aware of any such tunnels in the north, but residents say that – whatever the cost – they’ll dig out the tunnels, if there are any, in order to be able to sleep in peace on the rocky hillsides.
The IDF spokesman said in response that, “the IDF is in constant contact with the leaders of the communities and their security teams, and so far, every circumstance about hearing noises and suspected tunnels has been investigated by specialized forces and ruled out – including in the community of Zarit.
“Army forces are working to carry out more investigations of the issue in this community.”
Israel’s Ministry of Defense is investing millions of shekels in research programs designed to locate tunnels from Lebanon into Israel.
“There is a lot of talk about it and concern,” one anonymous source told Israel’s Channel 2 News at the beginning of Aug.
Kiryat Shmona Mayor Nissim Malka sent a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in early Aug. asking him to examine the issue as soon as the violence in the south subsided.
Residents “have complained of hearing noises coming from under the ground. I have heard these complaints several times, but yesterday, when I came back from a tour of the Gaza border communities, I understood,” Malka wrote.
“If this is what they did in the South, I am certain [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah is not sitting idly and giving out candy,” Malka warned.
The issue first came to the public’s attention during the 2006 war against Hezbollah, when the Shi’ite terrorists popped out of well-concealed, planned and equipped tunnels to attack IDF soldiers – often with lethal results.
A renewed public awareness of the issue emerged when residents of Kibbutz Gesher HaZiv and Kiryat Shmona reported that they heard muffled voices beneath their homes and suspected that tunnels were being dug under their feet, not unlike similar reports from Gaza-area residents.
Watch an IDF team explore a tunnel discovered in Gaza:
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