TEL AVIV – Former IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot denied Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s claim about the existence of additional cross-border tunnels that the army doesn’t know about.
“There is no truth behind Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s claim that we have not found all the terror tunnels,” Eisenkot said Sunday at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv.
“[Nasrallah’s] claim that there are things we don’t know about is baseless,” he said. “We have clear knowledge that this project was foiled.”
Earlier this month, the IDF wrapped up its operation, dubbed Northern Shield, to locate and destroy the Hezbollah-dug attack tunnels that ran from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.
“We assessed that there was a [tunnel] project like this, and beginning in 2014 we had specific knowledge of the program. When we decided to act, we acted. And in six weeks we destroyed all the attack tunnels into northern Israel,” Eisenkot said.
In a three hour interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV Saturday, Nasrallah declared: “The uncovering of the tunnels does not affect by 10 percent our plans to take over the Galilee. If we decide to do it — even if they’ve destroyed the tunnels — can’t we rebuild them?”
He went on to say there may be attack tunnels Israel has not yet discovered.
However, Eisenkot did confirm Nasrallah’s claim that some of the tunnels were more than a decade old.
“They were dug before the Lebanon War,” Nasrallah said during the interview. “It took Israelis a long time to expose them.”
“One of the tunnels discovered recently is 13 or 14 years old,” he said, “and was located entirely in Israeli territory, meaning all of Israel’s technology and capabilities failed to detect this tunnel.”
Eisenkot poked fun at Nasrallah’s sudden decision to make an appearance after being off the radar for more than two months.
“We used to hear Nasrallah speak once a week, now he speaks for the first time in 10 weeks, that’s one achievement you cannot argue with,” Eisenkot said.
His absence fueled rumors that the aging Hezbollah leader had suffered a heart attack and was battling cancer, claims that Hezbollah officials dismissed earlier this month as “Zionist lies.”
The former general also said that Israel has made progress in preventing an Iranian front on its northern border.
“The Iranian military presence still exists, but the gap between the goal that the Quds Force set in 2015-2016 and the reality that exists in the beginning of 2019 is significant,” he said.