Hezbollah leader warns of military option if no Israel-Lebanon gas deal reached

Hezbollah leader warns of military option if no Israel-Lebanon gas deal reached
Hezbollah's leader has warned that a conflict with Israel was highly likely if a deal to secure Lebanon's maritime gas and oil rights were not reached.
3 min read
26 July, 2022
Nasrallah says the US and Israel are blocking Lebanon from extracting its oil and gas [Getty]

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has again threatened Israel if it begins extracting gas from a disputed maritime area before a deal with Lebanon is reached.

"If oil and gas extraction from Karish [Israeli gas field] begins in September before Lebanon gets its right, we are going to a have problem," Nasrallah said during a Monday night interview with Al-Mayadeen TV.

"We have set a goal, and we are going to (work on) it without any hesitation, and we will resort to everything that achieves this goal," the secretary-general said, warning that nowhere in Israel is outside Hezbollah’s reach.

Nasrallah said any developments will depend on decisions made by the US and Israel, who he has repeatedly accused of blocking Lebanon from benefiting from potentially huge natural resources in its territorial waters.

Hezbollah has faced widespread criticism for its role in backing the Assad regime in its devastating war against the Syrian people. 

Reports earlier this month said Israel was pushing to secure an agreement with Lebanon by September.

The US has been mediating indirect talks between the enemy states for years, and US energy envoy Amos Hochstein is expected to arrive in Beirut in the coming days to follow up on negotiations.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah – believed to be more powerful than the Lebanese armed forces - was compelled to defend Lebanon’s interests as the state was unable to do so. He stressed oil and gas extraction would save the crisis-struck country, especially in light of Europe’s increasing energy needs.

He also warned that a war between Lebanon and Israel could very possibly spread and see the involvement of other powers, without specifying who.

"There is no Israeli target at sea or on land that the resistance's [Hezbollah’s] precision missiles cannot reach."

Earlier this month, the Israeli army intercepted three drones launched by Hezbollah heading towards the Karish offshore gas field. Another drone was shot down over Israel days later.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz responded to Nasrallah’s warnings on Tuesday, saying the Hezbollah leader was impeding a solution to the maritime dispute which will have further consequences on Lebanon’s energy crisis.

"We are trying to reach a solution with Lebanon," Gantz said, adding that he hoped "the situation does not deteriorate to war… but we must defend our rights to extract gas without harming the Lebanese (people)".

Israel has in recent weeks threatened to unleash a violent war on Lebanon, warning that people will see unprecedented bombing in the event a conflict breaks out.

A war would further devastate Lebanon, already suffering from a years-long financial meltdown and the aftermath of a cataclysmic explosion at the Beirut Port in 2020.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel last fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006.