On June 9, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel against extracting gas from the disputed Karish naval gas field, saying that “all options are on the table” when it comes to protecting Lebanon’s maritime wealth.
In a televised speech, Nasrallah said that Hezbollah is capable all levels of preventing Israel from extracting gas from the disputed field.
The Lebanese-Israeli dispute over Karish heated up earlier this month when the Greek-owned Energean Power FPSO [Floating Production Storage Offloading] reached the field to extract gas under a contract with the Israeli Ministry of Energy.
Lebanon claims that a 550-square-mile area also containing the Karish gas field should be part of its exclusive economic zone in addition to an already disputed 330-square-mile area, which Israel rejects. US-backed talks to demarcate naval border between Lebanon and Israel, which started in 2020, are yet to produce any results.
Nasrallah called the activities of the Power FPSO in the disputed gas field an “aggressive and provocative act” against Lebanon.
“The Resistance is capable on all levels- militarily, logistically, security and individually- to prevent the Israeli enemy from extracting gas and oil in Karish field. The Resistance is committed to defend Lebanon’s maritime wealth,” the leader said. “All enemy’s measures can’t defend the vessel planning to extract oil and gas in disputed zone”.
Nasrallah went on to say that Lebanon’s losses in case of any war will be “nothing” compared to the losses that Hezbollah will inflict on Israel.
“The powerful Resistance can’t and won’t keep mum regarding Israeli aggression on Lebanon’s maritime wealth,” Nasrallah, adding that “all options are on the table” in a message to the Israeli leadership.
Nasrallah also called on Energean to withdraw its vessel from the disputed maritime zone, warning the Greek-owned company that it will be “responsible” for any material or human losses that could be inflicted upon the vessel.
“The Greek firm operating the vessel near Karish has to know that it’s a partner in the Israeli aggression on Lebanon and must withdraw the ship from the disputed zone immediately,” the leader said.
Israel made a serious threat to Lebanon over the issue on June 9. In a joint statement, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Energy Minister Karine Elharrar warned that Israel has the right to defend its strategic infrastructure and is prepared to do so. The ministers also called on Lebanon to speed up talks on the disputed maritime zone.
Hezbollah’s threats will not likely deter Israel, which appears to be determined to begin extracting gas from Karish before demarcating naval border with Lebanon. This could lead to a serious escalation, especially if the Lebanese government opted to give Hezbollah a free hand on the issue.
The Lebanese group, which possess a large arsenal of precision-guided missiles, has the ability to target gas rigs in Karish. Israel would likely response to any such attack by launching a large-scale operation against the group