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Lebanon disputes Israeli 'attack tunnel' claims, mulls UN complaint

The Israeli military launched an open-ended operation on Tuesday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2018

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Lebanon's parliament speaker said that Israel has presented no evidence to prove its claims that a network of attack tunnels has been built by Hizballah across the countries' shared borders.

Lebanon's parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that Israel had provided no evidence of tunnels allegedly built by Hizballah to launch cross-border attacks.

The Israeli military launched an open-ended operation on Tuesday to destroy what it said was a network of attack tunnels built by Hizballah.

Excavations continued on Wednesday as Israeli media reports suggested the military operation could take weeks to complete, with diggers and other heavy machinery seen working on the Israeli side of the heavily-guarded border.

"The Israelis did not present any information," at the meeting with the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeeping force, a statement from Berri's office said.

Lebanon had asked for geographic coordinates but received none, Berri, a political ally of Hizballah, added.

Ali Bazzi, a lawmaker from Berri's parliamentary bloc, said Israel had no evidence to its claims, calling them a "distraction" and an attempt by Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to "evade" possible new indictment at home for corruption charges.

Lebanon's foreign ministry will submit a complaint to the United Nations about "repeated Israeli violations," state news agency NNA said.

Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said on Tuesday that the "attack tunnels" were not yet operational and declined to say how many had been detected or how they would be destroyed.

The Israeli military said it had protectively increased forces along the border and warned Hizballah to keep its distance from the tunnels.

Lebanon's army also said it was monitoring the situation closely and was "fully prepared to face any emergency".

There was no comment from Hizballah.

Israel occupied swathes of southern Lebanon for 15 years, withdrawing from the country in 2000 after its South Lebanon Army (SLA) ally collapsed and Hizballah forces gained ground in the area.

In 2006, a month-long war between Israel and Hizballah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians, displaced over one million, and devastated infrastructure in the country.

Israel and Hizballah have avoided major conflict since 2006, though Israel has launched multiple attacks in neighbouring Syria targeting the powerful Shia group.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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