Hezbollah launches unarmed drones towards Israeli gas platform in disputed waters

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The Israeli military said on Saturday it intercepted three drones launched by Hezbollah heading for an offshore gas field in the Mediterranean, amid rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon.

“Three hostile drones approaching the airspace in Israel’s economic waters have been intercepted,” the military said in a statement, adding that the drones were heading towards the Karish gas field. The drones were unarmed and posed no risk, Israeli military sources said.


One drone was intercepted by a fighter jet and the other two by a warship, the sources added. Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement confirmed in a statement that it had launched drones towards the offshore area.

“On Saturday afternoon, three unarmed drones were launched towards the disputed Karish field for reconnaissance missions,” the Shiite group said in a statement. “Mission accomplished,” he added, without mentioning any Israeli interception.

Lebanon condemned Israel last month when an Israeli-chartered vessel operated by London-listed Greek energy company Energean entered the Karish field. Hezbollah then warned Energean against continuing its activities.

“The immediate objective should be to prevent the enemy from extracting oil and gas from the Karish gas field,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address. Hezbollah will not “stand idly by in the face of (Israel’s) plunder of Lebanon’s natural wealth… which is the only hope for the salvation of the Lebanese people”, he warned.

Lebanon and Israel resumed negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, but the process was stalled by Beirut’s assertion that the map used by the United Nations in the talks needed to be changed. Lebanon initially requested 860 square kilometers (330 sq mi) of waters it said was in dispute, but later requested an additional 1,430 square kilometers (552 sq mi), including part of the Karish field .

Israel claims the field is in its waters and is not part of the disputed area under ongoing negotiations. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Saturday that “Israel knows how to use its force against every threat, against every enemy,” without specifically mentioning intercepted drones.

“I say to all those who seek our disappearance, from Gaza to Tehran, from the coasts of Lebanon to Syria: do not test us,” he said during his first speech as prime minister. Lapid took office on Friday after the dissolution of the Israeli parliament, a prelude to new legislative elections to be held on November 1.

Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war and have no diplomatic relations. UN peacekeepers patrol along the border. Israel fought a devastating war with Hezbollah in 2006 and considers the Iranian-backed group one of its main enemies.

In mid-June, an official close to the maritime border negotiations told AFP that Lebanon had made an offer to a visiting US mediator that withheld its demands for parts of Karish but included a claim on the land. a whole separate domain.

(AFP)

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