Israel warns Hezbollah attack on gas field may mean war

Gantz says Hezbollah strike on Karish 'could trigger a reaction leading to several days of fighting and to a military campaign' amid lengthy negotiations dispute over their maritime border

AFP|
Israel on Monday warned Lebanon's Hezbollah any attack on its gas assets could spark war, after the terrorist group threatened to "sever" Israel's hands if it taps a disputed offshore field.
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  • The warning from Defense Minister Benny Gantz comes amid lengthy negotiations between the eastern Mediterranean neighbors to settle a dispute over their maritime border.
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    אסדת ''כריש'' והספינה אח''י אילת
    אסדת ''כריש'' והספינה אח''י אילת
    Israeli Navy corvette near Karish offshore gas field
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    Tensions spiked in June when a production vessel chartered by Israel arrived near the Karish offshore gas field, which Lebanon claims is within contested waters.
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on August 9 that "the hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed".
    Asked if any attack by Hezbollah against an Israeli gas field could lead to war, Gantz said: "Yes, that could trigger a reaction".
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    בני גנץ
    בני גנץ
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Kobi Koankes)
    "Leading to several days of fighting and to a military campaign. We are strong and prepared for this scenario, but we don't want it," the minister told 103 FM Radio.
    Gantz said extraction from the gas field would begin "when it is ready to produce", reaffirming Israel's claim to Karish.
    "The State of Israel is both ready to protect its assets and ready to reach a deal with the Lebanese government, via American mediation, on the Sidon deposit," he said in reference to another gas field known in Lebanon as Qana.
    "I believe that in the future, there will be two gas platforms. One on our side, one on theirs. And I hope that we do not have to go through another round of confrontations before then."
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    חסן נסראללה
    חסן נסראללה
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
    (Photo: AFP)
    Israel and Lebanon last fought a devastating conflict in 2006 and remain officially at war, with United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the land border.
    Negotiations on the maritime border resumed in 2020, with the talks stalling before being revived in June.
    The initial discussions focused on a disputed area of 860 square kilometers (332 square miles), in accordance with Lebanon's claims registered at the UN in 2011.
    Beirut subsequently requested the area be expanded by a further 1,430 square kilometers, which includes part of the Karish field that Israel states is within its exclusive economic zone recognized by the UN.
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