Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was left feeling “very embarrassed” following Israeli military's “tremendous success” in Operation Northern Shield, which saw the army locate and destroy six sophisticated tunnels dug by the Lebanese based terror group into Israel.
The prime minister’s remarks come a day after the secretary-general of the Iran-backed terror group appeared in a rare interview, saying Hezbollah has been able to infiltrate Israel through the tunnels “for years” and hinting there were other underground constructions the IDF failed to expose. Nasrallah also warned Netanyahu directly, urging him not to "do something rash" before the Israeli elections in April.
"Nasrallah broke his silence yesterday," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “His men invested a great deal of effort in digging the tunnels, and within three weeks they were deprived of their strategic weapon,” added Netanyahu, referring to the six-weeks long operation meant to expose and neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the border with Israel after years of intensive and careful planning.
The prime minister added that Hezbollah's main sponsor, Iran, cannot fund the Shi’ite group as intensely as before due to the crippling economic sanctions placed on Tehran by the United States.
“The sanctions on Iran severely undermine Hezbollah’s sources of income. Nasrallah has good reasons not to want to feel the reach of Israel’s long arm," said Netanyahu.
Last week the UN Middle East envoy said that at least two of the tunnels found by Israel crossed the blue line between the countries, "and thereby constituted violations".
UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said both sides must stick to their side of the blue line and that Hezbollah must leave the area around the frontier.
The blue line is a decades-old demarcation line that both sides have agreed to abide by until they can agree on a formal delineation of the disputed border.
The envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, told the United Nations that peacekeepers had not been granted access to the Lebanese entry point of one of the tunnels.
"One of the tunnels discovered goes back 13 years," Nasrallah said, asserting it predated resolution 1701, but without discussing how old other tunnels were.
Reuters contributed to this report.