Hezbollah leader swears ‘no one’ will extract gas or oil from maritime areas if Lebanon is unable to do so
By Laila Bassam and Maya Gebeily
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The leader of the powerful armed group Hezbollah warned on Wednesday that “no one” would be allowed to operate in maritime oil and gas fields if Lebanon was deprived of its “rights” to extract areas off its own ribs.
“If you don’t grant us the rights that our state demands (…), we could reverse the situation for everyone,” Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address.
“If you want to come to a formula where this country cannot profit (from these deposits), then no one will be allowed to extract gas or oil and no one will be able to sell gas or oil,” Nasrallah said.
Lebanon is locked in US-mediated negotiations with Israel to delineate a shared maritime border that would help determine which oil and gas resources belong to which country.
Israel has already started working on the Karish oil field via a vessel operated by London-based Energean.
On July 2, Hezbollah launched three unarmed drones towards the ship, which Israel intercepted.
Nasrallah said it was the “first time” such an attack had taken place and was intended to alert workers on the ship that it “is not a safe area”.
He hinted at further attacks, saying his group has military capabilities on land, in the air and at sea, and could deploy “large numbers” of armed drones simultaneously.
Nasrallah threatened “Karish and beyond Karish,” echoing a statement he made weeks before a month-long conflict with Israel in 2006 when he threatened “Haifa and beyond Haifa.”
The group then launched rocket attacks on Haifa. Wednesday marked the 16th anniversary of the start of the 2006 conflict.
Nasrallah also insisted that Lebanon had a “golden opportunity” in the next two months to secure its maritime rights before Israel completes work at Karish.
He urged Lebanese officials to use his group as leverage, saying Hezbollah was Lebanon’s “only strong point”.
“The resistance is telling you, use me. Take advantage of me… Tell the Americans these guys don’t answer to anyone, they’re out of control – say what you want. Say it,” Nasrallah said.
(Reporting by Layla Bassam and Maya Gebeily; editing by Jonathan Oatis)