'Israel Will Defend Gas Field'

Landau says Israel “will not hesitate” to use force to protect Haifa gas field if Lebanon lays claim to find.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 19:58

Uzi Landau
Uzi Landau
Yoni Kempinski
Israel is prepared to use force if necessary to protect a gas field off the coast of Haifa, Minister of National Infrastructure Uzi Landau told Bloomberg News on Wednesday.

"We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law,” Landau said. His statement was a response to a Lebanese attempt to lay claim to the gas find.

Two weeks ago, Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper accused Israel of attempting to steal gas. The gas field off the shore of Haifa was described by the paper as being located “offshore from the coast of Lebanon, between the international border of Palestine and Cyprus.”

The next day, Lebanese Parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri called on his government to lay its own claim to the gas field. “Lebanon must take immediate action to defend its financial, political, economic and sovereign rights,” he said.

A senior Hizbullah leader, Heshem Safieddine, said Hizbullah would not allow Israel to take what he referred to as Lebanese resources.

Lebanon would challenge Israel's claim to the gas field no matter where it was located, Landau said. “Whatever we find, they will have something to say. That's because they're not challenging our findings and so-called occupation of the sea. Our very existence here is a matter of occupation for them.”

The areas in which gas has been found “are within the economic waters of Israel,” he added. Gas was first discovered 50 miles west of Haifa.

Updated projections have shown that the deposit may hold between 690 and 850 billion cubic meters of gas, far more than was initially expected. The finds could supply Israel's gas needs for 20 to 35 years.

The find could turn Israel “from a consumer to a supplier of gas,” Landau said earlier this month when the updated projections were made public. “This is a jump that could mean economic independence for Israel,” he stated.
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