New York—Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan has demanded that the international community condemn Hezbollah’s foiled drone intrusion on an Israeli gas field.
Erdan sent an urgent letter this week to the United Nations Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, stating, “Israel does not seek an escalation. However, we will not accept violations of our sovereignty and will take any necessary steps to protect Israeli citizens.”
In recent weeks, the Israeli military confirmed that its forces have shot down several Hezbollah drones launched toward Israel’s gas rig in the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean, a maritime area currently under Israeli-Lebanese negotiations.
“Lebanon’s government has vacillated over whether the area is part of its EEZ claim, but it currently asserts that Karish is within its waters,” The Maritime Executive news site states. “Lebanon has never formally filed a maritime claim to the area surrounding Karish with the United Nations, and Israel does not recognize an ongoing boundary dispute at the site.”
The United States is trying to facilitate an agreement between the two countries on their maritime border.
International energy affairs coordinator, Special Envoy Amos J. Hochstein, who serves as the U.S. administration’s Jerusalem-Beirut mediator, is expected in Israel this week in parallel to President Joe Biden’s trip to the region. Hochstein will meet with Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources Karine Elharrar-Hartstein, according to local reports.
The special envoy’s arrival comes with high expectations for significant progress since Lebanese authorities’ counter-offer, to abandon its squabble over the 332-square-mile Karish gas field in exchange for the 552-square-mile Qana gas field nearby.
Hezbollah, which took credit for the remotely piloted aircraft, has attempted to exploit tensions over the gas field to threaten Israel’s energy-production efforts at Karish.
Lebanese politicians chided Hezbollah for its “risky” and “unacceptable” provocation with the RPAs, but Erdan emphasized in his letter to the U.N. secretary-general and Security Council that Israel holds the Lebanese government “responsible for all hostilities emanating from Lebanese territory.”
“Lebanon must not allow Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, or other terrorist groups, to adversely affect regional security and stability,” Erdan wrote.
Israel says that Hezbollah’s actions blatantly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“These UAVs were launched by Hezbollah from Lebanese territory to the gas rig located in the Karish natural gas field, a critical civilian energy facility, in a deliberate attempt to threaten Israel and gather intelligence,” Erdan stated. “This is a dangerous, hostile act, and serves as yet another provocation by Hezbollah that must be strongly condemned by the international community.”
Israel “demands that Lebanon fulfill its duties to prevent all hostile activity from its territory,” Erdan stated. “While Israel does not wish for the escalation of the situation, it will not accept any violation of its sovereign rights and security, and will take all necessary steps to protect its civilian energy infrastructure.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.