On January 31, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah will pay the price for Iran’s entrenchment in the country if a new Israeli-Lebanese war erupted. The minster also stressed that the Israeli Army will not hesitate to conduct a ground operation inside Lebanon in the event of a new war against Hezbollah.
“Lebanon’s army and Hezbollah are the same — they will all pay the full price in the event of an escalation … If a conflict does break out in the north, ‘boots on the ground’ remains an option,” Lieberman said at an annual conference held by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, according to the Times Of Israel.
Lieberman continued promising that in any future war “all of Beirut will be in bomb shelters” and stressing that Israel will not allow the repetition of what happened in the 2006 war when most Lebanese areas where witnessing normal life, but Israelis were hiding in the shelters most of the time.
“We won’t allow scenes like in 2006, where we saw citizens of Beirut on the beach while Israelis in Tel Aviv sat in shelters,” said Lieberman.
The Israeli defense minister even claimed that the Lebanese naval oil field (Block 9) is inside the Israel waters. Lieberman went on and threatened the companies that are developing the oil field with the Lebanese government by saying that they are making a “grave error.”
“When they [the Lebanese government] issue a tender on a gas field, including Block 9, which by any standard is ours … this is very, very challenging and provocative conduct here … [These companies] are, to my mind, making a grave error – because this is contrary to all of the rules and all protocol in cases like this,” Lieberman said according to Reuters.
In response, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said that Lieberman’s statement is a threat to Lebanon and “its right to sovereignty over its territorial waters.” Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement that Lebanon would take up Lieberman’s comments with the “relevant international bodies to affirm its right to act in its territorial waters.”
From its side, Hezbollah said in a short official statement that Lieberman threats are an example of the Israeli ambitions in Lebanon’s wealth, land and water and a part of Israel’s aggressive policy against Lebanon. The Lebanese movement also stressed that it’s ready to counter any Israeli attacks on the Lebanese oil fields.
“We reaffirm our firm and frank position in confronting any assault on our oil and gas rights and to defend Lebanon’s facilities and its resources,” Hezbollah said in its official statement.
However, Lieberman’s threats will not likely lead to the escalation situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border. The minister is well-known for his aggressive language and threats against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.