Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the tunnels have likely been in the works for some time, and hint at preparation for larger Hezbollah operations against Israel.
In an exclusive interview with The Israel Project, Michael Mazeika, a five-year resident of Metulla, said that the northern city, on the border with Lebanon, is a "beautiful place" to live, but, with the news of recently discovered tunnels dug by Hezbollah, facing a "terrible reality".
Israel announced its "Northern Shield" operation on 4 December, vowing to eliminate all underground tunnels coming from Lebanese territory.
The military said it had located one such tunnel dug from a home in the Kfar Kila area of south Lebanon that crossed into Israeli territory and was working to "neutralize" it.
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 United Nations forces". "That enemy is called Iran", he said. New U.S. sanctions appear to have further constrained Iran's economy, which already had been teetering on the brink of collapse amid popular protests against the hardline regime. Both monitor the border between Israel and Lebanon, known as the Blue Line.
He said that at the end of the operation, the tunnels "will no longer exist and will no longer be effective".
The statement came after reports of Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri saying that the IDF had not given information about the tunnels.
An Israeli M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System is near the Northen Israeli kibbutz of Yiftah near the border with Lebanon, Dec. 5, 2018.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission meanwhile said Wednesday it will send a team to Israel to "ascertain facts", calling for full access to all locations along the border. Hezbollah had no immediate comment on the claims or the Israeli activities across the border.
"If Hezbollah knew that we knew [about the existence of the tunnels] then this would accelerate their kidnapping efforts, and we did not want to get to a situation where the kidnappers infiltrate into Israel and abduct a soldier or a civilian, and no one would know anything about it", the senior official said.
In New York, Dujarric told reporters that the tunnels into Israeli sovereign territory were considered a violation of Resolution 1701.
"I'm not anxious", said Leora Razklien, a 35-year-old who was born in Metullah.
Israeli soldiers gather by an army vehicle at the Lebanon-Israel border wall near the site of an Israeli excavation site for reported cross-border Hezbollah-dug tunnels, December 5, 2018.
"There were reports for years that people here heard digging and construction late at night". They told the IDF about it.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow hoped that no actions would be in conflict with the resolution, which ended the 2006 Israeli aggression against Lebanon and called on the Israeli regime to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity.