Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday warned Lebanon’s leaders that “if they choose the path of fire,” they will be “severely burned,” while noting that the “path of stability” can help Lebanon’s citizens.
“I toured the northern border today with Prime Minister (Yair) Lapid. We conducted an operational situation assessment and dialogue with the senior commanders in the sector,” Gantz tweeted after touring the border with Lebanon.
“Israel is willing to do much to make its neighbors prosper and is willing to act at all times to protect its citizens. We are ready on all fronts -- in air, at sea, on land and electronically,” he added.
“Our eyes are on the crisis in Lebanon, which is affecting civilians. The State of Lebanon and its leaders are well aware that if they choose the path of fire, they will be harmed and severely burned. And if they choose the path of stability, they will help the citizens of Lebanon,” Gantz went on to say.
Earlier this month, Israel intercepted three drones launched by Hezbollah that were headed towards the Karish offshore gas field in the Mediterranean. Another Hezbollah drone "which approached Israel's economic waters" was downed in late June, according to the Israeli army.
Lebanon had condemned Israel last month when a vessel chartered by Israel and operated by London-listed energy firm Energean entered the Karish offshore field. Hezbollah at the time warned Energean against proceeding with its activities.
Lebanon and Israel resumed negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, but the process was later stalled by Lebanon’s claim that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed modifying.
Lebanon initially demanded 860 square kilometers of waters it said were in dispute but then asked for an additional 1,430 square kilometers, including part of the Karish field.
Israel claims that the field lies in its waters and is not part of the disputed area subject to ongoing negotiations.
According to media reports, Lebanon has recently told Israel through U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein that it can keep the entire Karish field in return for granting Lebanon the entire Qana field.
Conflicting reports later emerged on whether the talks have made tangible progress and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has warned that his group is ready to engage in an all-out war if Lebanon is not allowed to extract gas and oil from its offshore fields.
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