The Israeli military is readying for a possible attack by Lebanon’s Shiite group Hezbollah on the Energean gas rig off of Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Hebrew media reported Sunday.
According to Kan public broadcaster, Israeli navy vessels will help secure the drilling platform, which entered a disputed maritime zone between Israel and Lebanon.
The new gas rig arrived at the Karish site on Sunday and is expected to drill gas for Israel in the coming months.
In response to the rig’s arrival, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun warned Israel against any “aggressive action” in the disputed waters where both states hope to develop offshore energy.
“Any action or activity in the disputed area represents a provocation and a hostile act,” Aoun’s office said.
Bassam Yasin, the head of Lebanon’s negotiations delegation, said “a response is in the hands of the state and Hezbollah,” Kan reported.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah group has warned Israel in the past against unilaterally searching for natural gas in the disputed maritime region.
The Walla! News site quoted an unnamed senior Israeli on Sunday as saying that Lebanon’s claims to the site “contradict the positions that Lebanon itself presented in the past.”
Israel says the field in question is within its exclusive economic zone, not in disputed waters. A naval version of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense systems, along with submarines, will reportedly protect the rig.
The United States began mediating indirect talks between the sides in 2000 to settle a long-running dispute between old foes that has obstructed energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.