The announcement of the operation came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels on Monday night.
The IDF said that Israel has seen over the years a concerted effort by Iran-backed Hezbollah to dig such tunnels, though emphasized that none were yet operational nor posed an imminent threat to Israeli civilians. The resolution reiterates the UNSC's strong support for full respect for the Blue Line, the border demarcation between Lebanon and Israel published by the United Nations in 2000 for the purposes of determining whether Israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon.
Additional troops were deployed to northern Israel as a precaution against potential attacks by Hezbollah, but reservists forces were called up. Manelis said the Lebanese Armed Forces is not capable of controlling what occurs in southern Lebanon.
Israel, meanwhile, gave no special orders to residents of northern Israel, signaling that it too was not expecting an immediate response from Hezbollah.
Israel's vulnerability to tunnels was laid bare during its war with Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza in 2014 when Palestinian militants used dozens of secret passages dug from Gaza into Israel to launch surprise attacks.
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As early as 2006, the IDF discovered that Hezbollah was building tunnels into its territory from Lebanon, an activity which only increased after the Second Lebanon War.
A government official said the operation would likely take weeks.
"The operation launched by the IDF is being led by the Northern Command, with the participation of the Military Intelligence, the Combat Engineering Corps, and the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (Mapat), with the aim of neutralizing the offensive tunnels in our territory".
The tunnels are concentrated in the area around Metula, a small Israeli town of around 1,000 people nestled against the border with Lebanon.
Israel released video footage of digging and pile-driving equipment at work in unidentified locations, carrying out what it said were "tactical preparations to expose Hezbollah's offensive cross-border tunnel project".
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 was meant to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.