Lebanese Prime Minister criticizes Hezbollah for provoking drones

Placeholder while loading article actions

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s acting prime minister on Monday criticized the militant group Hezbollah for sending three unmanned planes over an Israeli gas facility last week, saying it was an unnecessarily risky action.

Najib Mikati’s comment came two days after Hezbollah launched three drones over the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli military said on Saturday it shot down the three drones, before Hezbollah issued a statement saying they were unarmed and had been sent on a reconnaissance mission. “The mission has been accomplished and the message has been received,” Hezbollah said.

Lebanon says the Karish gas field is disputed territory in ongoing maritime border negotiations, while Israel says it is within its internationally recognized economic waters.

“Lebanon considers that any action outside the framework of the state and the diplomatic context while the negotiations are underway is unacceptable and exposes it to unnecessary risks,” said Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib, quoting the Mikati’s statement.

Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies who fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the group its most serious immediate threat, estimating that it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.

The incident at the Karish gas field came shortly after US mediator Amos Hochstein recently visited Lebanese and Israeli officials as talks progressed.

Mikati told reporters on Saturday that Lebanon had received “encouraging information” regarding the border dispute, but declined to comment until it received an “official written response to the suggestions from the Lebanese side”.

Negotiations between Lebanon and Israel to determine their maritime borders began in October 2020, when the two sides held US-mediated proxy talks in southern Lebanon. Since resuming mediation in late 2021, Hochstein has resorted to shuttle diplomacy with visits to Beirut and Jerusalem.

The two countries, which have been officially at war since the establishment of Israel in 1948, both claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to exploit offshore gas reserves as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in its modern history.

washingtonpost Gt

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.