Why Hizballah Attacked an Israeli Offshore Gas Field

July 11 2022

On July 2, Hizballah flew three drones at low altitudes over the Karish natural-gas field in the Mediterranean, which is the subject of a dispute between Israel and Lebanon. An Israeli jet and warship promptly shot them down. Most likely, writes Ron Ben-Yishai, the Iran-backed terrorist group launched them in response to an IDF attack on targets in Syria earlier the same day. But the incident has wider significance:

The Karish gas field, inside Israel’s territorial waters, is a point of contention between Jerusalem and Beirut, with the United States acting as mediator in the dispute in the past few months. Hizballah, by targeting the field, was sending a message to the Lebanese government to stand firm and to demand that the maritime border between the countries be moved south to include Karish and other potential gas reservoirs in Lebanese [coastal waters].

Through its actions, Hizballah was likely aiming to achieve not only Iranian goals, but the group’s own objectives. By increasing tension around the maritime border dispute, it might succeed in discouraging foreign companies from investing there, which might sway the U.S. to take a position more favorable for Hizballah.

The drones were unarmed, by all indications, and were sent to photograph the gas rig and embarrass Israel by exhibiting Hizballah’s ability to attack it, as well as prove that Israeli assets were exposed at a time of political instability and just ahead of the visit to the area by President Joe Biden.

But the Iran-backed group’s objectives were literally shot down by the IDF. The Israeli airforce and navy now can respond to a drone attack even in less-than-optimal conditions—when they are flying slowly and in low altitude, and are harder to detect. . . . Hizballah will be shown, no doubt, that a strike against Israel’s territorial waters by UAVs or other methods, . . . will come at a cost.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli gas, Israeli Security, Lebanon

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship