The Israeli Defense Forces are currently undertaking a campaign in northern Israeli as a means to yet again take on Hezbollah. This time, their target is specifically the tunnels which the notorious Lebanese terrorist organization allegedly uses to infiltrate Israel undetected.
It's been dubbed "Operation: Northern Shield."
If this sounds a bit familiar, that's because it is. Kinda. The IDF had tremendously huge success wiping out Hamas' terrorist tunnels in the south of the country back in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. It was, in fact, one of their primary objectives in that controversial clash.
In support of Operation: Northern Shield, newly released footage from the IDF purports to show a Hezbollah operative trying to use one of the subterranean passageways, only to be stopped in his tracks by what appears to be some sort of defensive flashbang device.
The explosions serves its purpose and sends the alleged Hezbollah operative-a-runnin' in the opposite direction:
Great shot! Very funny!
But some have expressed doubts as to the functionality of the anti-tunnel campaign, and are questioning if it even serves a real purpose. While Hezbollah has remained a consistent and deadly threat, leading several war efforts against Israel (and of course claiming fictitious victories all the while), the majority of people are scratching their heads when it comes to any kind of Hezbollah/tunnel connection.
Hezbollah's main objectives in major conflicts with Israel tend to be aerial assaults and cross-border incursions. Missiles, rockets, mortars, kidnappings...you know, good ol' fashioned traditional above-ground terrorist fightin'!
Hezbollah fighters (Getty Images)
But in-depth, clandestine, subterranean tunnel warfare? Not so much.
To be fair, we should remember the old adage that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
After all, how many of us really knew the scale of tunnel warfare in the Holy Land before the IDF started continually exposing and destroying them? By God, Palestinian tunnel warfare even has its own Wikipedia article!
But make no mistakes: these tunnels aren't just built for smuggling manpower. Weapons and supplies are also covertly transported en masse in these tunnels. Some of the those which traverse beneath the Gazan/Sinai border in Egypt were large enough for entire supply trucks to navigate through:
A truck-sized tunnel connecting Rafah, Egypt, and the Gaza Strip (Photo by Wikipedia)
So what's the problem? Isn't Israel just being, erm, Israeli, and taking out enemy tunnels? Is the threat real?
Seems so on the surface, but there's a group of Israeli nationals who are now saying the true purpose of the anti-tunnel endeavor is merely a politically-driven stunt, ultimately come to fruition by ordinance of the top Israeli cheese himself, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The problem isn't the existence of the tunnels. There's no reason to assume they don't exist, outright. But in that same vein, there's no reason to assume they just started existing. Why the current effort, when Hezbollah is more concerned with the Syrian conflict to the East?
Their source on this? The smoking gun? It's all in the timing. Just 7 days ago, Israeli police recommended indicting Netanyahu (along with his wife Sara) for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. About 3 days later, Operation: Northern Shield was announced. Would a successful war campaign hearken back to memories of Netanyahu's 2014 triumphs against Hamas' terrorist tunnels and erase whatever political threat he currently faces?
That's the plan, the hope of Netanyahu, if his accusers are right.
Read more over at Al-Monitor.