An Israel-Lebanon Gas Deal Would Only Benefit Hizballah

Jerusalem and Beirut are reportedly close to concluding a U.S.-brokered agreement to delineate their maritime border, so that both can exploit their respective offshore natural-gas and oil reserves without conflict. While on its face the deal would seem a win for both countries—as well as for gas-starved Europe, eager for any additional sources of fossil fuels—Tony Badran argues that its primary beneficiary will be Hizballah, which has been threatening to attack Israel’s Karish gas field if its demands are not met:

While the details of a final agreement have not been made public, the satisfied assessments from the Lebanese side indicate that Washington has managed to extract critical concessions from Israel that meet Hizballah’s demands. First, Israel will cede the entire disputed area of 854 square kilometers of Mediterranean waters. It will also cede the whole of a prospective gas field that protrudes into Israeli waters beyond Line 23, which Lebanon has filed as its border.

The key Hizballah condition was for production at Karish to be frozen until the consortium led by [the French fossil-fuel corporation] TotalEnergies had agreed it would begin drilling for gas in Block 9 of Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone, which Israel now will have conceded in full. The Biden administration sought to satisfy that condition, meeting with French officials and TotalEnergies executives to discuss the start of operations.

If a border agreement is finalized, the Biden administration will have set a terrible precedent by leveraging Hizballah threats to secure Israeli concessions that enrich and empower a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. The administration will also have turned Hizballah into a significant player in eastern Mediterranean energy, enshrining the group’s partnership with France and its investments in Lebanon. The precedent might even extend beyond Lebanon as now Hizballah is encouraging Hamas to follow its lead with gas fields off the coast of Gaza.

Read more at FDD

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Natural Gas, U.S. Foreign policy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7