Following threats coming from the Lebanese army and Hezbollah, the terrorist group that exercises full military and political control over Lebanon, Israel has sent a message that it is not seeking confrontation with its northern neighbor, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.
Israel’s message to Lebanon was carried by David Satterfield, the acting assistant United States Secretary of State, who is in the region trying to defuse tensions between the two countries.
A Lebanese official told Reuters, “Regarding the visit of the American envoy, he held talks regarding the wall with Israel and said there is no call for concern and there is no direction toward escalation. He assured the Lebanese that Israel does not want escalation.”
The news of the Israeli message comes just a day after Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council, the nation’s top security organization issued a statement calling on the military to oppose all Israeli “aggression,” at the nations’ land and sea borders.
The growing tensions from Lebanese claims to a natural gas field in the Mediterranean and that a border barrier that Israel is constructing violates Lebanese territory.
While Israel has been working on the barrier for some time to prevent a land-based attack by Hezbollah onto Israeli territory, it is only now that Lebanon has objected to it. Last week the Israeli media reported that Hezbollah, which was described as having “more military clout than the Lebanese army itself,” threatened to shoot at the Israelis building the barrier.
Israel responded saying that the barrier was being built on its own territory in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425. In 2000, the UN confirmed that Israel had complied with the resolution.
Lebanon also issued a tender to explore a natural gas field in 2019, even though a field that Israel claims. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called the move “provocative.” Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri responded that Liberman’s declaration was a “blatant provocation that Lebanon rejects.”
Backing up Lebanon’s claims, Hezbollah has produced pamphlets and videos threatening to attack the Israeli gas platforms. One pamphlet read, “Whoever abuses oil and gas sites in Lebanon’s economic waters — their sites will be abused.” A video produced by Hezbollah showed a simulated attack on an Israeli gas platform.
[Photo: David King / Flickr]