Antonio Guterres
Antonio Guterres Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that a direct confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah would be his “worst nightmare”, Reuters reported.

Guterres said the latest signals from Israel and the Iranian-backed terrorist group showed the will to not let this happen but “sometimes a spark is enough to unleash this kind of a conflict”.

“I am deeply worried about hard-to-foresee escalations in the whole region,” Guterres was quoted as having told reporters in his native Lisbon.

“The worst nightmare would be if there is a direct confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah...the level of destruction in Lebanon would be absolutely devastating, so there are major points of concern around this situation,” he warned.

Last week, a senior Hezbollah official issued a threat to Israel following the incident in the north in which the Israel Air Force downed an Iranian drone that infiltrated Israeli territory and an Israeli F16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

The official said that Israel would carry out an "act of stupidity" if it initiated "aggression" against Syria, Lebanon or Gaza.

On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted that Syria’s downing of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was a “very big achievement” and also threatened Israel's offshore energy projects.

Guterres’s comments also come amid a dispute between Israel and Lebanon over offshore gas drilling.

Nearly two weeks ago, 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 has denounced any exploration by Beirut as "provocative".