Former Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya'alon admitted on Thursday that the Israeli officials had for years lied about the existence of alleged Hezbollah tunnels beneath the Lebanon-Israel border.
Speaking to Israel's Army Radio, Ya'alon said that the Israeli officials lied about the tunnels for years before they decided to carry out an operation to destroy them earlier this week.
"We did it to mislead the other side," Ya'alon told the Army Radio. "There is an exaggeration in the way it [the operation] was presented, and I hope that does not hurt us," he added.
Regarding previous remarks he delivered in 2016 that there was "no single tunnel" in the north, Ya'alon said: "My comments two years ago that there are no tunnels in the north was a lie in order to preserve the security of the state."
However, he believes that there is an exaggeration regarding the ongoing operation.
Ya'alon's remarks were widely reported by the Israeli media, but he insisted that "none of the tunnels reach any of the communities where people said they had heard digging, nor to any home."
Israel launched its operation in the early hours of Tuesday morning, declaring the town of Metulla – located on the Israeli-Lebanese border not far from the occupied Golan Heights – a closed military zone. It is thought that the operation could last for several weeks, with Israel claiming the Metulla tunnel is one of many similar underground passages.