Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel on Tuesday against any attempt to encroach on Lebanon’s territorial waters, The Beirut Daily Star reported.
In a video speech he gave as part of a rally marking the fifth anniversary of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah stressed that his group was better equipped and ready to confront any act of aggression by Israel than at any time before.
“Whoever harms our future oil facilities has their own [facilities] and consequently will face the same damage,” Nasrallah warned, adding, “They know that Lebanon is capable of such damage.”
He added, “As long as Lebanon considers [the disputed area] the 850 square kilometer zone as part of its territorial waters, then the resistance considers it Lebanese and therefore it is no longer disputed but an area that is encroached upon.
“Lebanon has a diplomatic opportunity to gain it back through demarcating its maritime borders and we warn Israel not to attempt to steal this area or Lebanon’s resources from its territorial waters ... It is necessary to warn Israel,” Nasrallah said.
Israel and Lebanon have been at odds over a disputed maritime border between the two countries. The Israeli Cabinet recently approved a “marine economic zone proposal” after Lebanon presented maps to the United Nations, marking maritime borders that would include part of the giant Leviathan and Tamar fields. The United Nations previously has refused to take responsibility for marking the maritime borders.
Israeli firms discovered the two gas fields, which also are believed to hold large commercially viable oil deposits, two years ago. Lebanon later claimed the discoveries are in its territory, and it recently has announced that a Norwegian company will start a seismic research offshore.
Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Joubran Bassil said after Israel defined the maritime border that it “is playing with fire “by violating Lebanon’s maritime border and oil rights.”
He added, “Obviously we will prevent any violation. However, in case of violations, Israel will not be the only damaged part, but also large companies that cooperate with it. We, in Lebanon, respect the rights of others, and we don’t want to violate the rights of others, but at the same time, we do not want someone to attack us. Lebanon will not give up its rights or its borders.”
Nasrallah for his part urged Lebanese politicians in his speech to act responsibly and seriously in order to take full advantage of the country’s offshore oil and gas wealth. He then warned Israel that Hizbullah is ready to deal with any “aggression” on its part.
“I tell [our enemies and friends] that the resistance in Lebanon in terms of its intelligence, unity, courage, manpower and material resources is stronger and better than any other time since its establishment,” Nasrallah said. “As I have always promised you victory [in the past], I promise you again that victory will be achieved.”