The Trump administration disclosed that Iran is behind the construction of several underground tunnels leading into Israel that Hezbollah militants and other terror forces have been using to conduct attacks, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon and communicated fears that Tehran is preparing to lead a “massive regional war.”
The public identification of Iran isn’t likely to surprise international observers, but signals aggressive moves by the Trump administration to tie Iran to the rise of terrorism not just in Israel, but across the Middle East, where Iranian-backed militants continue to strike U.S. interests and allies.
The Obama administration, in contrast to Trump, was careful to avoid singling out Iran as the chief force for terrorism against Israel and U.S. allies in the region in hopes of appeasing the hardline regime as it sought to ink the landmark nuclear pact that Trump abandoned earlier this year.
Senior U.S. officials familiar with Israel’s discovery of these new tunnels—a tactic long used by Hezbollah and Hamas to conduct cross-border raids against Israeli civilians and military personnel—say they mark a massive escalation by Iran’s terror proxies.
The Israeli military conducted operations to destroy the tunnels earlier this week, shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a one-on-one meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels.
The timing of Israel’s military operations signal a deep coordination with the Trump administration, which told the Free Beacon the United States will stand side-by-side with the Jewish state as it works to thwart Iran’s terror enterprise.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the tunnels show Iran used money from sanctions lifted under the Obama administration for military purposes.