BEIRUT ( Associated Press) — Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah warned Israel on Tuesday about a maritime dispute between the two countries, saying “any hand” that reaches out to steal money from Lebanon “will be cut off.”
“Don’t make mistakes with Lebanon or with the Lebanese people,” said the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
“Any hand that tries to steal this (Lebanese) money will be cut off,” Nasrallah added in a speech in south Beirut on the occasion of the Islamic holiday of Ashura.
Lebanon “must be prepared for any eventuality… We will not tolerate the idea of our money being stolen.”
After agreeing to a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad after three days of violence in the Gaza Strip, he warned Israel not to attack any Palestinian officials in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the United States is making efforts to resolve the more than a decade-old maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon.
Both countries claim an area of 860 square kilometers (330 sq mi) in the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon further states that the Karish gas field is within a disputed maritime zone, while Israel maintains that it is within its territorial waters.
US State Department energy adviser Amos Hochstein, who is mediating the two sides, met with Lebanese officials last week. After the meeting, he said the parties were close to an agreement.
It is reported that Hochstein then traveled to Israel and will travel to Beirut in the coming weeks to discuss Israel’s responses to Lebanon’s claims.
Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies who fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the Iran-backed Shia group its most immediate threat and estimates Hezbollah has about 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel.
Lebanon urgently needs a deal with Israel on its maritime dispute, as it is eager to exploit gas reserves to ease a deepening economic crisis, one of the worst in its modern history.