By Wassim Saif al-Din
BEIRUT / JERUSALEM
Nowhere in Israel is beyond the reach of the missiles of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, said the group’s deputy secretary-general on Sunday.
Naim Qassem’s remarks in an interview with Iranian daily Al-Vefagh were Hezbollah’s first reaction to Israeli claims that Hezbollah has dug tunnels across the border into Israel.
Earlier this month, the Israeli army launched a military operation called Northern Shield meant to thwart the alleged offensive tunnels into Israeli territory.
Late Saturday, Andrea Tenenti, the spokesman for the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said that the Israeli army had informed him of another border tunnel.
In the newspaper interview, Qassem said Israel cannot take military action against Lebanon because since 2006 it has been deterred by the capabilities of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon.
The interior of Israel, including Tel Aviv, is exposed to Hezbollah missiles, he said.
"The rules of engagement and deterrence created by Hezbollah in Lebanon have greatly complicated the idea of Israel starting a war on Lebanon,” he said.
Netanyahu: No interest in clashes on
On Sunday, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- facing new corruption charges -- said the Israeli army operation against the tunnels "is in its beginning."
"We'll continue to act until its completion," he added in a statement.
Netanyahu also said he is not interested in clashes on the Gaza Strip border or the West Bank amid Operation Northern Shield on the Lebanese-Israeli border.
"We have no interest in a spark on the Palestinian front," Israeli Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted Netanyahu as saying.