Gantz: Hezbollah challenged 'Israel' over Karish using 'sea vessels'
The Israeli occupation Security Minister claims that "Israel is prepared for a deal" with Lebanon and threatens to take Lebanon apart if Hezbollah attacks "Israel".
Israeli occupation Security Minister, Benny Gantz, said Saturday he hopes that "Israel" will be close to a deal with Lebanon on the demarcation of maritime borders, but said that Lebanon had issued fresh "caveats we do not approve of."
In an interview for Israeli Channel 12, Gantz claimed that "if Hezbollah makes that mistake and attacks Israel in any way, by air, sea or land, Israel will defend itself resolutely, it will attack resolutely, and if things develop into a broader conflict, we will take Lebanon apart."
Gantz pointed out that in the event that a deal is not signed, the Israeli occupation will pursue extracting gas from the Karish platform as planned.
He also said that he is not making a settlement regarding security and that the matter "is in Lebanon’s hands now."
According to the Israeli occupation Security Minister, Hezbollah tried to challenge the Karish platform using "sea vessels" and not only by launching drones.
Gantz said he instructed the Israeli occupation forces "to be prepared for an escalation that does not necessarily need to occur," adding that he had placed the occupation forces on high readiness in terms of intelligence, offensive, and "defensive operations" in the north.
Gantz: "Israel" is prepared for a deal
In the same context, Gantz told Kan Chanel that "if we reach a deal with the Lebanese government it will be good for both sides. It will be good for stability and serve all players."
He claimed that the Israeli occupation was "not anxious" about Lebanese Hezbollah’s threats, adding that "we keep making clear that Israel is prepared for a deal, Israel is determined to maintain its economic and security interests."
The Israeli Security Minister also slammed former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for criticizing the deal, saying that the latter "would have run to sign" a deal with Lebanon and that Netanyahu was "engaged solely in political manipulation."
The Times of Israel reported that Gantz's office invited Netanyahu to a security briefing session to provide him with details on the proposed deal with Lebanon over the demarcation of maritime borders after the latter described the deal as a submission to Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Nasrallah.
Read more: Maritime deal with Lebanon positive, IOF, Mossad want it: minister
Israeli media: Full gas extraction process could begin within weeks
In a similar context, the Israeli website Wallah! quoted a senior US administration official as saying that there is progress in the negotiations over the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and the Israeli occupation.
According to the US official, several drafts and new formulas were exchanged, in an attempt to reach an agreement regarding the remaining gaps.
Israeli media reported Saturday that gas drilling company Energean is set to begin testing the pipeline of the Karish gas platform.
Israeli Channel 12 said the Israeli occupation's security establishment has given the company the green light to begin the testing process, and Kan indicated that the tests could start as soon as Sunday, while the full gas extraction process from the Karish platform could begin within weeks.
It is noteworthy that an Israeli expert on Arab affairs, Yoni Ben Menachem, said Friday that the Israeli occupation "will surrender in the end because it is under pressure to produce natural gas, so it should be given time to come down from the tree and not rush into a military action."
This comes after an Israeli official said Thursday that the Israeli occupation rejected revisions requested by Lebanon to the US-mediated border demarcation proposal.
Top Lebanese negotiator Elias Bou Saab told Reuters that the US-brokered talks between Beirut and "Tel Aviv" were at a "make or break" point after the latter rejected the negotiations.
The deal "is 90% done, but the remaining 10% could make it or break it," Bou Saab indicated, adding that he had been in constant contact with US mediator Amos Hochstein.
Israeli media also considered Thursday that the Lebanese maritime border agreement strengthens Hezbollah's position domestically, stressing that Hezbollah has once again proven that it can achieve its political and strategic goals in Lebanon and the region thanks to its military strength that cannot be dissuaded or weakened.
Read more: Israeli media: Demarcation deal could be salvation for Israelis