“Three drones approaching Israel’s economic waters have been intercepted,” the military said in a statement, adding that the unmanned craft had been launched by Hezbollah and were heading towards the Karish offshore field.
According to the army, these three drones were shot down before approaching the gas field.
One drone was intercepted by a fighter jet, and the other two by a warship, Israeli military sources said.
For Lebanon, the Karish field is in part of disputed waters with Israel. The Jewish state believes that it is located in its exclusive economic zone.
In Beirut, the powerful armed movement of Hezbollah, sworn enemy of Israel, did not react immediately to the Israeli assertions. Hezbollah is a close ally of Iran, Israel’s other pet peeve.
This incident comes the day after the assumption of duties in Israel by centrist Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who officially succeeded Naftali Bennett on Friday.
“I stand before you and say to all those who want us gone, from Gaza to Tehran, from the sides of Lebanon to Syria: do not test us! Israel knows how to use its force against any threat and against any enemy,” he said. said Mr Lapid in his first speech as Prime Minister on Saturday evening.
Mr. Lapid did not comment directly on the interception of the drones, but said that his country would “do everything in its power” to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or “taking root”. at our borders.
Israel accuses Iran, which denies, of seeking to manufacture nuclear weapons. Iran militarily supports the power in Syria, a neighboring country of the Jewish state.
– Gas war –
The discovery in recent years of vast gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean has whetted the appetite of the neighboring countries and fueled border disputes.
Lebanon and Israel, two neighboring countries officially still in a state of war, began unprecedented negotiations in October 2020 under the aegis of Washington to delimit their maritime border, in order to remove obstacles to hydrocarbon prospecting.
But talks were suspended in May 2021 following disputes over the surface of the disputed area including the Karish gas field.
For the Jewish state, the Karish field is located in Israeli territory “several kilometers from the area on which the negotiations relate” with Lebanon, which also suggests an analysis of satellite images carried out by the Israeli daily Haaretz.
For Beirut, this deposit is in disputed waters.
Tensions resurfaced in early June with the arrival at the Karish field of a ship chartered on behalf of the Jewish state by the British exploration company Energean Plc.
On June 9, Hezbollah, whose influence is predominant in Lebanon, affirmed that “the immediate objective should be to prevent the enemy from extracting oil and gas from the Karish gas field”.
Its leader Hassan Nasrallah then warned that his movement “will not stand idly by in the face of the looting of Lebanon’s natural wealth (…) which represents the only hope of salvation for the Lebanese people”.