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December 9, 2018 10:38 am

Netanyahu: Israel Will Act Against ‘Precision Weapons’ in Lebanon, Foil Hezbollah Tunnel Threat

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dec. 5, 2018. Photo: Debbie Hill / Pool via Reuters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed members of his cabinet on Sunday on a phone call he had with Russian President Vladmir Putin the previous day.

“I told President Putin that we are continuing our policy — we will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to take action against the precision weapons in Lebanon, and we will complete the operation to foil the tunnels threat.”

Relations between Jerusalem and Moscow have been clouded in recent months by a mid-September incident in which a Russian military plane was accidentally downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile over the Mediterranean Sea, near Latakia. Russia charged that Israel had indirectly caused the mishap by not providing enough advance warning of an IAF operation that was taking place in the area at the time.

Israel and Russia have sought to avoid such occurrences since Moscow’s military intervention in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime began in 2015.

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On Sunday, Netanyahu said he and Putin had “agreed that the IDF and Russian military coordination delegations will meet soon, hopefully in the coming days, apparently in Moscow.”

“President Putin and I will meet later on,” the Israeli prime minister added. “This is in continuation of the very important talk we had in Paris (last month), in order to ensure the continuation of the orderly coordination between the Russian military and the IDF, which has been maintained for several years now.”

Netanyahu also updated cabinet ministers on the Israeli military’s ongoing effort to detect and destroy tunnels dug by Hezbollah under the border with Lebanon — an issue brought to public attention this week with the announcement of the launch of “Operation Northern Shield.”

“IDF soldiers are working methodically and decisively around the clock, even in inclement weather, to expose and neutralize tunnel after tunnel,” he said.

“We need patience, but with the same perseverance we will continue the operation until its conclusion — until the tunnel threat in the north is neutralized,” Netanyahu continued. “At the same time we are working in the intelligence sphere in order to denounce Hezbollah and Iran and to increase sanctions against both of them.”

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