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Bahrain backs anti-Hizballah tunnel operation in rare public defence of Israel Open in fullscreen

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Bahrain backs anti-Hizballah tunnel operation in rare public defence of Israel

Bahrain blacklisted Hizballah as a terror group in 2016. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2018

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Bahrain's foreign minister gave his backing for Israel's military operation to destroy cross-border tunnels built by Hizballah in a rare public show of support for Israel from an Arab leader.

Bahrain's foreign minister on Thursday gave his backing for Israel's military operation to destroy cross-border tunnels built by Lebanese group Hizballah in a rare public show of support for Israel from an Arab leader.

"Is Terrorist Hizballah's digging of the tunnels under Lebanon's border not a flagrant threat to Lebanon's stability, which it shares responsibility for? Who bears responsibility when neighbouring countries take upon themselves to eliminate the threat they face?" Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa wrote on Twitter.

Israel launched an operation dubbed "Northern Shield" on Tuesday to destroy tunnels it said were dug across the border by Hizballah.

Peacekeeping force UNIFIL confirmed the presence of a tunnel in northern Israel near the Lebanese border on Thursday.

"UNIFIL is now engaged with the parties to pursue urgent follow-up action," it said. "It is very important to determine the full picture of this serious occurrence."

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil asked his country's ambassador to the United Nations to "present a complaint against Israel", his ministry said in a statement.

He accused Israel of carrying out a "diplomatic and political campaign against Lebanon, preparing to launch aggressions against it", he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took foreign diplomats to the border with Lebanon on Thursday, ramping up anti-Hizballah rhetoric.

The much publicised tunnel operations by Netanyahu have been condemned by opposition politicians and commentators as a distraction tactic from the embattled Israeli leader's mounting legal woes and a fractured political coalition.

It is believed that Israel has known about the existence of cross-border tunnels for years.

Last month, Netanyahu's office said that he would visit Bahrain "soon" as part of Israel's burgeoning relations with Gulf states.

Days earlier, Israel's minister of economy revealed he had been personally invited to attend a conference next year in Bahrain.

Bahrain's foreign minister this week denied that Netanyahu was planning to visit.

Several Gulf countries, including Bahrain, blacklisted Hizballah as a terror group in 2016.

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