Hezbollah on Sunday aired drone footage of Israeli ships in a disputed gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, highlighting the tension at the center of U.S.-mediated maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel.
The footage was aired as the U.S. energy envoy, Amos Hochstein, was landing in Beirut to mediate ongoing talks between Lebanon and Israel over their sea borders. Lebanon claims the Karish gas field is disputed territory under ongoing maritime border negotiations, whereas Israel says it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.
Caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib in a statement Friday said Hochstein will inform Lebanon of Israel’s response to Lebanon’s June proposal, adding that he was optimistic about reaching an agreement soon.
There was no immediate response to the video from Israel.
The footage aired on the group’s al-Manar television showed barges in the Karish gas field and their coordinates. It ended with footage of a rocket with the words “within range” in Arabic and Hebrew.
The video also contained a phrase previously voiced by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warning that “wasting time is not beneficial.”
The Israeli military earlier this month shot down three Hezbollah unarmed drones flying over Karish the gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati criticized Hezbollah at the time, saying the move could pose risks to the country.
Nasrallah in an interview last week said that the group can locate and strike Karish and any other Israeli gas field.
Following his last visit in June, Hochstein told U.S.-funded Al-Hurra television that the Lebanese government took “a very strong step forward” by presenting a more united approach, and anticipated that there could be progress to reach a settlement.
Lebanon and Israel, which have been officially at war since Israel’s creation in 1948, both claim some 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to exploit offshore gas reserves as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in its modern history.