Residents of northern Israel, who live near the Israeli-Lebanese border, received with mixed feelings the IDF’s announcement of the end of Operation Northern Shield in which Hezbollah's terror tunnels were demolished.
Meir Biton of Moshav Avivim told the Israel Hayom newspaper that "in the last half year I have seen and photographed the digging of a shaft in Lebanese territory. When I heard that the operation started, I was happy. They said they found tunnels in Metula, Zarit, and Shtula, and we thought they would come to us too, but they did not even come to check if there was a tunnel here or not.”
"Now it's really scary. If they had at least searched, then I would stay home should a war start. But when I hear that they’ve concluded the operation, I know I will not stay here for one second," he continued.
Residents of Rosh Hanikra also reported hearing digging noises for at least the past two years. "There were quite a few testimonies, all of which relate to the same period, to the same hours in which digging noises were heard, and the same nature of noise. I understood that representatives from the army came, but no drillings were carried out to confirm or deny the existence of a tunnel in our area," said Gadi Shabtai, a resident of Rosh Hanikra.
"Since then, additional testimonies have accumulated, and the army was supposed to come and meet with the residents at the kibbutz’s culture center, but every time the meeting was postponed and it has not been held until today."
Orly Cohen, who works in the war room of Moshav Kfar Yuval, said on Sunday, "I'm sure there are more tunnels that have not been located. In my opinion, the declaration was made in ordered to make a ‘checkmark’ before the Knesset elections. We know that the IDF searched here, but no one informed us whether or not they found a tunnel. Imagine that we are in the war room of the community, we do not know whether or not they found a tunnel in our area. So to say we're calm? Definitely not."
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in response to the report that "all the inquiries on the matter were thoroughly examined and were dealt with very seriously in the IDF. The tests were carried out thoroughly and professionally, on both the overt and covert levels. It should be noted that, if necessary, dedicated teams arrive at the area. As part of the teams' activity at the site, there were indeed subterranean noises that were heard, but upon investigation it became clear that these noises were not sounds of digging, and the existence of terrorist tunnels was ruled out.”
“The IDF will continue to examine in depth any request that may be made, parallel to a large-scale defense effort on the Lebanese border, combining various means and technologies, and the continued construction of the defensive barrier. In addition, IDF forces and the underground detection laboratory will continue to operate regularly along the Lebanese border against underground activity."