BEIRUT — Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday said, regarding the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, that “if the extraction of oil and gas started [from Israel] in September before Lebanon gets its rights, we are going to a fight and have set a goal and we will act accordingly.”
Here’s what we know:
• On June 5, Israel deployed a floating production ship to the Karish gas field located in the disputed waters between Lebanon and Israel causing tension between the two countries.
• In an interview with Hezbollah-affiliated channel Al Mayadeen on Monday, Nasrallah also said that if Lebanon doesn’t get what it wants during the negotiations, Hezbollah “can locate and has the ability to strike every target in Israel” including “every gas field, not just Karish.”
• On June 13, the United States mediator in the Lebanese-Israeli maritime border negotiations, Amos Hochstein, arrived in Lebanon and was given a new proposal from the Lebanese side. Lebanon’s proposition reportedly demands the Qana gas field, which extends past the offshore demarcation identified as line 23, while Israel would receive the Karish gas field. The Qana field still must be drilled to verify if it actually contains gas according to oil and gas experts Laury Haytayan and Marc Ayoub.
• Replying to head of the Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil’s statement in an interview with Al-Manar on Friday, in which he asked the Iranians to give Lebanon fuel for free, Nasrallah said that he is “ready to bring fuel from Iran for free that would increase [state] electricity up to 10 hours a day… But the government has to approve.”
• On Sept. 16, 2021, Trucks filled with diesel fuel from Iran began entering Lebanon through Syria as part of Hezbollah initiative. At the time, the country was at the peak of its acute fuel shortages. The fuel, part of which was donated, was mostly sold in Lebanon at below-market prices.
• Regarding the arrest of Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and Jerusalem Moussa al-Hage last week by General Security, who was on a visit to Jerusalem, Nasrallah said that “It is not fair, what some people say, that security forces in Lebanon work for the interest of Hezbollah… We have a good relationship with General Security based on friendship and respect, but they were just doing their job as they got orders from the judiciary.” The Military Court, headed by Judge Fadi Akiki, was reportedly the branch of the judiciary that ordered General Security to detain Hage, who was released the same day. “We say to the Lebanese, especially the Christians, that what has happened has no relation to Hezbollah… Hezbollah has not and will not intervene in this matter. This matter is being used to trigger sectarian divisions.”
• Last Monday, the Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and Jerusalem Moussa al-Hage, returning from a visit to the headquarters of the bishopric of Jerusalem, was arrested by General Security at the Ras Naqoura at the Lebanese-Israeli border. The archbishop was arrested in possession of $460,000 in cash, which he said came from donations from Lebanese living in Israel to their relatives in Lebanon to help them get through the economic crisis.
• The matter has sparked controversy in Lebanese politics, as some claim the arrest is a message to the Maronite Patriot Bechara al-Rai, who has often railed against Hezbollah and its arsenal of weapons. Others criticized Hage for traveling through Israel, an action that is considered illegal for a citizen of Lebanon.
• “The matter of transporting money [from Israel] is against the law, whether it is for humanitarian reasons or not,” Nasrallah also said. “The matter of Israel we cannot justify, with all my respect to the Patriarchate. Why should he be given this exception as long as Israel is an enemy,” the Hezbollah chief added.