The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched operation "Northern Shield" Tuesday to destroy Hizballah's cross-border attack tunnels that infiltrate into Israel from the Lebanese border.
The IDF said that "a number of tunnels" were dug underneath Israeli territory and constituted a "flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty."
The military operation is primarily taking place on Israel's side of the northern border.
"This morning the IDF began Operation Northern Shield, the goal of which is to uncover and neutralize terrorist tunnels from Lebanon", said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement Tuesday, adding, "Whoever tries to attack the State of Israel – will pay a heavy price."
The operation comes amid rising tensions in the region, following reported Israeli airstrikes last week targeting enemy infrastructure in Syria.
Hizballah released a video with Hebrew subtitles Friday that featured satellite images and specific locations of strategic areas in Israel, warning Israel: "Attack and you will regret it."
But, on Monday, a senior Hizballah source told Reuters that neither Iranian or Hizballah positions were targeted last week.
That day Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels to discuss urgent developments concerning Iranian and Hizballah threats on Israel's border. Netanyahu reportedly intended to ask Pompeo to warn Beirut that the Jewish state would take military action against Hizballah if its terrorist build-up continued.
Israel's military considers Hizballah tunnels an offensive threat that would be used for cross-border terrorist raids in a future war. It is believed that Hizballah would attempt to launch a mass-casualty attack and conquer an Israeli border town.
Hizballah remains Israel's primary and more immediate security threat. The terrorist organization has already converted an estimated 200 Lebanese villages and towns into military bases, using residential buildings and underground bunkers to store sophisticated weaponry aimed at Israel.
Hizballah is also committed to converting some of its 150,000-strong rocket arsenal into precision, GPS-guided missiles that could target sensitive infrastructure and civilian areas in Israel.
Recent attention has focused mainly on Hizballah's growing presence in Syria as the terrorist group attempts to consolidate a new terrorist front against Israel.
In addition to Hizballah's major investments in Syria, the terrorist group has devoted considerable resources to bolstering its terrorist capabilities in southern Lebanon.
"We are taking determined and responsible action in all sectors simultaneously. We will continue with additional actions – open and covert – in order to ensure the security of Israel," Netanyahu said in Tuesday's statement.
Today, the Israeli military launched a pre-emptive operation to hinder one method Hizballah would use to wreak havoc on Israeli communities. Some of Hizballah's other threatening terrorist infrastructure could be next.