In the wake of statements by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah about bombing all Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean, the Israeli army revealed that it has been conducting extensive exercises to deter such attacks.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said his army would respond painfully to any offensive, stressing that the Karish platform, which Hezbollah claims to be inside the Lebanese Exclusive Economic Zone, was located south of all border lines claimed by Lebanon in the indirect negotiations.
Therefore, Hezbollah’s threats are inappropriate, according to Gantz, who noted that his government does not see any reason that prevents it from producing gas from this field on the scheduled date in early September.
The Israeli defense minister’s remarks came during a talk show on Israeli Channel 13.
“Nonetheless, we want to reach an agreement with the government of Lebanon,” he said, accusing Nasrallah of obstructing the attempt to reach a solution and “harming the Lebanese and the energy sector.”
Gantz was asked if he believed that Hezbollah’s threats to Israel were serious.
He replied: “I think that Hezbollah knows that Israel is deterring it, and so does the government of Lebanon. But I always take into account the risk of deterioration, for example in the case of sending drones. We are alert and ready… Our response will be painful. I hope we don’t get into a war.”
He added: “We must defend our right to extract gas without harming the Lebanese.”
Meanwhile, a senior military source announced that the Israeli army was taking Hezbollah’s threats seriously, noting that for months, it has been conducting large-scale exercises to counter various types of attacks, including sending drones not only to Karish, but to all Israeli gas fields in the Mediterranean, at strategic locations inside Israel, and on commercial ships and ports.
According to the source, the army raised the level of alert and launched a series of drills to deter missile attacks.
Daniel Hagari, Israeli Navy Director of Operations, said that the army sees Hezbollah’s threats as strategic.
“Not only the gas fields are under threat; 99 percent of Israeli imports arrive by sea and 5,900 ships arrive at Israeli ports per year, about 53 percent of which reach Haifa port in the north, while 90 percent of wheat reaches Israel by sea. Therefore; the attack on any site needs a deterrent response,” he affirmed.