Thursday, September 29, 2022

Israeli PM issues stern warning to Hezbollah

JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid made a surprise visit to the border with Lebanon on Tuesday, where he threatened harsh retaliation for “unacceptable” aggression by Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

Lapid, who is in charge of an interim government until new elections are held, visited the area at a time of high tension with Hezbollah, an Islamic militia that waged a months-long war against Israel in 2006.

On Monday, Israel reported intercepting a drone coming from Lebanese territory, and last week the Hezbollah leader threatened Israel with military action if a maritime dispute was not resolved in Lebanon’s side.

“Israel is ready to act against any threat,” Lapid said. “We have no interest in escalation, but Hezbollah’s aggression is unacceptable and could take the entire region into an unnecessary escalation.”

He was accompanied by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and other military commanders.

Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious close threat, estimating that the Iran-backed group has about 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.

A few days ago, Israel said it had shot down three Hezbollah-launched unmanned aircraft towards an area where an Israeli gas platform had recently been installed in the Mediterranean. Hezbollah later confirmed that it had launched drones.

It was clearly an attempt by Hezbollah to influence US mediation talks between Israel and Lebanon, a region rich in natural gas, on its maritime border.

In a speech last week, the Hezbollah leader declared that Lebanon had the right to extract gas and oil in Lebanese waters and that the launch of the drone was “a small sample of what could happen next”.

Lebanon maintains that the Karish gas platform is in disputed waters, while Israel claims it is within internationally recognized territorial waters. The US has been mediating between the two sides since October 2020.

Nation World News Desk
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