Lebanese Hezbollah can stop Israeli gas extraction from disputed field, head says

The head of Lebanese Hezbollah said on Thursday his group could stop Israel from extracting gas from a maritime field that Beirut says is in disputed waters, adding that Hezbollah “is not afraid of war”.

Lebanon warned Israel on Sunday of any “aggressive action” in disputed waters where both states hope to develop offshore energy after a ship from London-based Energean arrived offshore to produce gas for Israel.

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Hezbollah “has the capacity to prevent the enemy from starting to withdraw from Karish, and any enemy actions will not be able to protect this ship,” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

Nasrallah said that “the Greek company”, referring to Energean, “is a partner in this attack on Lebanon”, for which it will suffer “consequences”.

Energean was not immediately available for comment.

Energean has said its floating production storage and unloading vessel will begin production in Karish in the third quarter.

Israel says the field in question, located about 80 km (50 miles) west of the city of Haifa, is within its exclusive economic zone, not in disputed waters.

The United States began mediating indirect talks between the parties in 2000 to resolve a long-running dispute that hampered energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Lebanon has yet to respond to an undisclosed proposal from a US envoy early this year to revive stalled talks.

Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Tuesday that US mediator Amos Hochstein will visit Beirut early next week, but Washington has said no travel plans have been announced yet.

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