BEIRUT -- Monday's criticism of Hezbollah's unmanned drones that flew over an Israeli gas station last week by Lebanon’s caretaker prime Minister was unfounded.
Najib Mikati made the comment two days after Hezbollah had launched three drones above the Karish gas field in Mediterranean Sea.
On Saturday, the Israeli military claimed that it had shot down three drones. Hezbollah then issued a statement claiming they were unarmed and sent on a reconnaissance mission. Hezbollah stated that the mission had been completed and that the message was received.
Lebanon claims that the Karish gas field is disputed land under ongoing maritime border negotiations. Israel, however, says it lies within its internationally recognised economic waters.
"Lebanon believes any actions that are not within the state's context and diplomatic context during negotiations is unacceptable and exposes them to unnecessary risks," Abdallah Bouhabib, Foreign Minister, stated. Citing Mikati's statement.
Hezbollah and Israel are bitter enemies. They fought a long war that lasted a month in the summer 2006. Israel regards the group as its greatest immediate threat. It estimates that it has approximately 150,000 missiles and rockets directed at Israel.
The Karish incident occurred shortly after U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein visited Lebanese officials and Israeli officials. Talks were progressing.
Mikati told reporters Saturday that Lebanon had received "encouraging" information regarding the border dispute. However, he refused to comment until he receives a written official response from the Lebanese side.
In October 2020, negotiations between Israel and Lebanon began to establish their maritime borders. The two sides then held indirect U.S.-mediated discussions in southern Lebanon. Hochstein, who took over the mediation in late 2021 has used shuttle diplomacy to visit Beirut and Jerusalem.
Officially at war since 1948's creation of Israel, the two countries claim 860 km (330 miles) of the Mediterranean Sea. As it struggles with its worst economic crisis, Lebanon plans to explore offshore gas resources.