Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned on Tuesday against any Israeli attempts to expand their targeting of Palestinian militants to Lebanon.
“Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking Ashura, a melancholic commemoration for Shia Muslims of the killing the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hussein.
The comments came after a flare-up in violence between Israel and the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip, prompted by Israel’s arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader earlier this month.
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On Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad, who he said could be seen in “restaurants and hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon.”
“They too will have to pay the price,” Gantz said.
On Monday, a day after a truce brokered by Egypt ended the Gaza violence, he said Israel could carry out “pre-emptive strikes” abroad.
“In the future too, if necessary, we will deliver a pre-emptive strike in order to defend Israel’s citizens, sovereignty and infrastructure, and this is true for all fronts, from Teheran to Khan Younis,” he said.
The Hezbollah chief also warned Israel against reaching for offshore gas reserves at a time US-mediated talks are aiming to settle a maritime border dispute.
“The hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed,” Nasrallah said.
“Lebanon’s oil, gas and water resources must remain under its control and no one should be allowed to rob the country,” he said in his televised speech.
The dispute escalated in early June after Israel moved a production vessel near the Karish offshore field, which is partly claimed by Lebanon.
This prompted Beirut to call for the resumption of US-mediated negotiations, while Nasrallah has responded by repeatedly launching threats.
On July 2, Israel said it had downed three drones launched by Hezbollah that were headed toward Karish.
That same month, the movement released a video it said showed surveillance of several Israeli-chartered ships, including the production vessel sent to Karish.
Nasrallah’s comments on Tuesday came as Lebanon awaits a response from Israel to an offer on the border dispute it submitted to US mediator Amos Hochstein last month.
Nasrallah said that “we are waiting for a response to the demands of the Lebanese state, and we will respond accordingly, but I tell you... we must be ready and prepared for all possibilities.”
“We will go all the way, so no one should try us.”
Lebanon and Israel, which fought their last war in 2006, had resumed maritime border negotiations in 2020 but the process had been stalled until the latest developments revived negotiations in June.
Hochstein told a Lebanon broadcaster this month that he is working toward a solution that would allow Israel to continue operations in Karish while also allowing Lebanon to enter the energy market.
An Israeli official last month said Israel’s offer would allow Lebanon to develop the so-called Sidon reservoir, also known as the Qana field, which is located in the disputed zone.
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