Lebanese officials threaten Israel

Lebanese President and Prime Minister warn their country will defend itself against any “Israeli aggression”.

Elad Benari ,

Michel Aoun
Michel Aoun

Lebanese officials on Monday threatened Israel, warning the country would defend itself against any “Israeli aggression”.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that “Lebanon has made a decision to defend itself in case of an Israeli aggression or encroachment on its rightful access to its offshore oil and gas resources.”

“So far, there has been no attack and it seems unlikely that Israel will carry out its threats,” he told the Egyptian TV channel ON live, adding he gave no importance to Israel’s “verbal provocations” but warning “against new wars if these provocations are translated into action”.

“Peace cannot be built on threats of war but by a new approach that is to reach a determination of rights and a minimum of justice, something that has not yet happened,” added Aoun.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed that Lebanon will always have "unified stances to confront Israel's violations," reported the Xinhua news agency.

He made the remarks after a summit at Baabda Palace with Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

"Our stances will always be united to confront Israel's violations against Lebanon," Hariri said.

"We will continue consultation with the president and the speaker to make our position united and national with regard to any encroachment on Lebanon," he added.

The comments follow the escalation between Israel and Syria over the weekend, when an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria, remaining in Israel some 90 seconds before the IAF shot it down.

In response to the provocation, Israel attacked the drone's command center. During the IAF operation, Syrian surface-to-air missiles downed an Israeli F-16I fighter jet. Both pilots suffered injuries, and ejected after reaching Israeli territory.

There have also been tensions between Israel and Lebanon in recent weeks over offshore drilling for gas.

On Friday, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas off its coast with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek, including in a block disputed by Israel.

Israel says one of two blocks in the eastern Mediterranean where Lebanon wants to drill for oil belongs to it, and had denounced any exploration by Beirut as "provocative".

Aoun in November accused Israel of “squatting in the southern borders” and of “violating Lebanon's sovereignty”.

Earlier that month, he warned that if a war with Israel were to occur, all the citizens of his country are willing to battle Israel.

“All Lebanese are ready to resist. All the Lebanese are prepared to fight against Israel. Yes, we are a small country, but we have reestablished our national unity, and part of that is a united opposition to anyone who attacks our country,” said Aoun at the time.

Last year, he warned that any Israeli attempt to violate Lebanon's sovereignty would be met with the "appropriate response".