December 11, 2018
Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement after Israel announced the discovery of a third cross-border tunnel built from Lebanon into Israeli territory by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite terror organization financed and armed by Iran:
“On December 4th the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Northern Shield, a purely defensive measure which is occurring completely within Israeli territory, which according to the Israeli government is designed to ‘expose and thwart cross-border tunnels’ built from Lebanon into northern Israel by Hezbollah. Today, Israel announced that a third tunnel had been discovered crossing from Lebanon into Israel in just the past week.
“Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shiite terror organization, controlled, financed and armed by Iran. Americans from across the political spectrum recall with horror that Hezbollah is responsible for the murder and kidnapping of hundreds of our fellow citizens, including the victims of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks bombings in Beirut. Maliciously and with Iran’s backing, Hezbollah is now in complete control over Lebanon both politically and militarily.
“The IDF claims the tunnels were intended to be used by Hezbollah as a surprise component of an opening salvo in a future war, alongside the mass infiltration of terrorist operatives above ground and the launching of rockets, missiles, and mortar shells at northern Israel. Israeli officials further believe the tunnels discovered inside Israel were large enough to be used by ‘entire battalions’ to enter Israeli territory in order to ‘carry out killing sprees and kidnappings and to capture Israeli towns and villages.’ Accordingly, these tunnels are a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty and violate UN Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and called for all armed groups besides the Lebanese military to remain north of the country’s Litani River.
“In a statement the IDF claimed that it considers the ‘Lebanese government, Lebanese military and UNIFIL as responsible for all that happens in Lebanon and for the enforcement of Resolution 1701.’
“Finally, it is extremely unfortunate that because of Hezbollah’s domination of Lebanon, and its cowardly tactic of using human shields, the next war between Israel and Hezbollah could lead to mass civilian casualties on both sides of the Lebanese border. According to the IDF, Hezbollah has a presence in ‘every third or fourth house’ and was ensconced in some 240 villages and towns in southern Lebanon. Additionally, Hezbollah is now estimated to be armed with about 150,000 rockets. This number is ten times larger than its arsenal before the traumatic 2006 war. With these rockets, Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israeli strategic military and civilian sites, including the country’s nuclear reactor in Dimona and ammonium tanks in Haifa, which would lead to mass casualties in a city known for the peaceful coexistence of its Jewish and Arab residents.
“The JCRC prays and hopes for peace and implores those countries with influence over Iran, Hezbollah, and Lebanon to act forcefully to ensure that Hezbollah’s lethal arsenal and aggressive posture along its border with Israel be curbed as soon as possible.”
(Photo: Israeli soldiers show UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col a Hezbollah tunnel that penetrated Israeli territory from southern Lebanon on December 6, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces/Times of Israel))
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.