Photo Credit: Ron Arda, Uri Kfir / Wikimedia CC3.0
Noa natural gas field, offshore Ashkelon, 2017

The Gaza Strip-based Hamas terror organization is demanding rights to gas fields situated off Israel’s shores, following the Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization that is threatening to attack Israel over the same issue.

The common Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary is not agreed upon between the two countries. The issue has been under discussion for over a decade. The focus of both sides is the oil and gas discoveries in the territorial waters which are under dispute.

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In recent months, the two countries held talks, mediated by the US and hosted by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL) at Rosh Hanikra. Amos Hochstein, the Biden administration’s Special Envoy for International Energy, is currently serving as mediator. He has traveled between Jerusalem and Beirut in recent weeks, and while expressing optimism, has not yet brought any final resolution.

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to attack Israel several times in recent weeks. Reports say that Israel has made concessions to Lebanon, possibly to prevent a conflict. On Sunday, the Al-Arabiya network reported that an agreement between Israel and Lebanon is almost complete and that the Karish field will remain in Israeli hands, while the nearby Kana field will be fully in Lebanese territory, an Israeli concession.

Following these reports, Hamas is demanding “rights to Palestine’s natural resources.”

Sohail Al-Hindi, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, stated Tuesday that the terror organization “will defend our right to natural gas with blood and weapons.”

The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip are preparing for protests at sea to put pressure on Israel to lift the military blockade on the Strip and get their right to extract natural gas from the gas reserves of the Gaza Strip coast.

Hamas said in a statement on Tuesday that “our Palestinian people and their valiant resistance will not allow the Zionist occupation to steal and plunder the wealth of our people.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said that “our people have the right to live in freedom and dignity and to benefit from their natural wealth,” stressing that “there is no compromise on the rights, principles and natural resources of our people.”

He called on the Palestinian Authority to “carry out its duties and responsibilities to stop the Zionist occupation’s plundering of our people’s natural resources.”

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.