Hezbollah warns Israel over border dispute with Lebanon

Aug 9, 2022, 3:13 AM | Updated: 6:11 am
Lebanese Shiite scouts of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carry their group and Lebanese flags a...

Lebanese Shiite scouts of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carry their group and Lebanese flags as they march during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned archenemy Israel on Tuesday over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group issued a warning Tuesday to archenemy Israel over the two countries’ maritime border dispute, saying that “any arm” that reaches to steal Lebanon’s wealth “will be cut off.”

Hassan Nasrallah’s remarks came amid intensified U.S. efforts to resolve a more than a decade-old maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon, which have officially been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.

Both countries claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon also claims that the Karish gas field is in disputed territory under ongoing maritime border negotiations while Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.

Amos Hochstein, a senior adviser for energy security at the U.S. State Department who has been mediating in the dispute, met with top Lebanese officials last week. After the talks, he said the two countries are getting closer to reaching a deal in the dispute.

Hochstein was later reported to have visited Israel and is expected back in Beirut in the coming weeks with Israeli responses to Lebanese requests.

Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies that fought a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the Iran-backed Shiite militant group its most serious immediate threat, estimating that Hezbollah has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.

In his speech during a rally south of Beirut, attended by tens of thousands to mark Ashoura, Nasrallah said Lebanon “should be ready to all possibilities.”

“We will not tolerate the idea that our wealth be stolen,” Nasrallah said.

Ashoura is one of the most important days on the Shiites religious calendar, commemorating the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.

Lebanon badly needs an agreement over the maritime border in the Mediterranean as it hopes to exploit offshore gas reserves to try and alleviate what has become the worst economic crisis in its modern history.

Last month, the Israeli military shot down three unarmed Hezbollah drones flying over the Karish field. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the time criticized Hezbollah, saying the move could pose risks to the country. Hezbollah later aired drone footage showing Israeli ships in the area.

“Don’t make mistakes with Lebanon nor with the people of Lebanon,” Nasrallah said. “Any arm that tries to reach for any of this (Lebanese) wealth will be cut off.”

Nasrallah also warned Israel not to target any Palestinian officials in Lebanon amid a cease-fire that ended three days of deadly fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group in the Gaza Strip. The Islamic Jihad group, along with the much larger Hamas militant group that runs Gaza, is a Hezbollah ally.

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              Lebanese Shiite scouts of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group carry their group and Lebanese flags as they march during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned archenemy Israel on Tuesday over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Lebanese Shiite supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group beat their chests as they march during the Shiite Muslim holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned archenemy Israel on Tuesday over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              A Shiite Lebanese member of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, mourns as he listens to the death story of Imam Hussein during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned archenemy Israel on Tuesday over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Lebanese Shiite supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, beat their chests as they march during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, greats his supporters as he speaks via a video link, during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              A Lebanese Shiite woman sits on the balcony of her house as she mourns while listening to the death story of Imam Hussein during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Lebanese Shiite men bleed from self-inflicted head wounds, as they strike their heads with swords to show their grief during the Muslim Shiite holy day of Ashoura, in the southern market town of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Ashoura is the annual Shiite Muslim commemoration marking the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
            
              A Lebanese Hezbollah fighter holds his machine gun as he stands guard on a building rooftop securing the square where people are attending a ceremony to mark the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah issued a warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              A Shiite Lebanese supporter of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group holds a portrait of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah with Arabic that reads: "Our Leader," during the Shiite holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Nasrallah issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              A Shiite Lebanese supporter of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, waves a flag with the name of Imam Hussein during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Shiite Lebanese members of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, mourns as he listens to the death story of Imam Hussein during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Shiite Lebanese members of Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, walk barefoot as they carry a poster showing Hezbollah drones with Arabic words that reads: "We are coming," during the holy day of Ashoura that commemorates the 7th century martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks via a video link, as his supporters raise their hands, during the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group has issued warning to archenemy Israel over the two countries' maritime border dispute. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

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Hezbollah warns Israel over border dispute with Lebanon