During a televised address in Beirut on Friday Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah once again warned Israel to back off its claims over disputed oil and gas field just off the southern Lebanese coast, threatening that Hezbollah could “disable [Israel’s offshore oil installations] within hours.”
“If you prevent us, we prevent you; if you open fire at us, we will open fire,” Nasrallah threatened.
The dispute over the eastern Mediterranean gas field goes back to January 2017, but blew up starting in late January of this year as it has been put up for tender by Lebanon and is expected to be developed by an international consortium of energy companies. However, as we reported at the time Israel has aggressively pushed for major sectors of the field to be internationally recognized as lying within its rightful territorial waters, going so far as to warn “respectable” companies from participating in the tender, which would be a “major mistake”.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in late January, “They [Lebanon] are announcing a tender on the gas field, including Block 9, which is ours by any definition,” and Lebanese actions “very, very challenging and provocative conduct here.”
“Lebanese officials previously announced plans to begin exploratory drilling in 2019. Israel is already producing gas at the Tamar field and expects to bring the much larger Leviathan field online next year. For context, the specific contested area at the heart of the recent spat, nicknamed Block 9, extends over an area of roughly 854 square kilometers,” according to RT. Map source: Jon Oronero via Medium.
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