During a televised address in Beirut on Friday, Nasrallah said Hezbollah could “disable [Israel’s offshore oil installations] within hours.”
“If you prevent us, we prevent you; if you open fire at us, we will open fire,” he added during a ceremony commemorating the death of Imad Mughniyeh, the party’s former military commander who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.
“In the battle for oil and gas, the only power you have, you the Lebanese people, is the resistance, because the Lebanese army is not allowed to own missiles,” Nasrallah began the address, as cited by Al Masdar News. Nasrallah also took the opportunity to condemn US interference in the region’s diplomacy.
“The Americans are not honest mediators, especially when the other party is the Israeli entity,” he concluded.
This isn’t the first time that the Lebanese militant group has threatened to attack Israel’s oil and gas installations in the Levant basin. Lebanon issued an offshore oil and gas exploration tender in late January along the country’s maritime border with Israel, instantly ramping up tensions in the region and sparking increasingly antagonistic rhetoric from both sides.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the move as “very provocative” and said such a tender was illegitimate as it was for a gas field “that is by all accounts ours,” as cited by The Times of Israel. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri fired back calling Lieberman’s statement a “blatant provocation that Lebanon rejects.”
Hezbollah also recently disseminated flyers in Lebanon that read: “Whoever harms gas and oil sites in Lebanese economic waters, their own sites will be harmed, and they know Lebanon is fully capable of doing so,”Ynet News reports.
Lebanese officials previously announced plans to begin exploratory drilling in 2019. Israel is already producing gas at the Tamar field and expects to bring the much larger Leviathan field online next year. For context, the specific contested area at the heart of the recent spat, nicknamed Block 9, extends over an area of roughly 854 square kilometers.