Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group threatened to strike a gas rig Israel is setting up in the Mediterranean Sea while claiming the country is in a disputed maritime area between the two countries.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, a staunch Iran ally, denounced in a televised address what he described as Israeli provocations in the maritime area. As it stands, Israel’s clear stance is that the location is part of its U.N.-recognized exclusive economic zone, hence accessible to the country.
Nasrallah’s threatening speech came after a warning by Lebanese President Michel Aoun last Sunday who said that maritime border negotiations between the two countries have not ended, adding that any move by Israel — such as drilling in the Karish field that Beirut calls disputed — will be considered “a provocation and hostile act.”
Amidst the squabble, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati invited a U.S. envoy mediating between Lebanon and Israel to return to Beirut to try and work out an agreement. Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser for energy security at the U.S. State Department, is expected to arrive in Beirut the next few days.
Nasrallah said Israel should wait for the results of the negotiations and that any drilling that takes place before an agreement will be considered a direct assault on Lebanon.
“All options are on the table,” he said, adding that all security measures that the Israeli military takes will not be able to protect the gas rig.
The ship and its owners, he said, should know that they are “partners in the aggression on Lebanon taking place today,” Nasrallah said, calling for its immediate withdrawal from the area. “They bear full responsibility for what could happen to this ship, both in material damage and to its crew.”