20 February 2018
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  •    - Bahrain
  •    - Iran
  •    - Iraq
  •    - Israel
  •    - Jordan
  •    - Kuwait
  •    - Lebanon
  •    - Oman
  •    - Palestine
  •    - Qatar
  •    - Saudi Arabia
  •    - Syria
  •    - Turkey
  •    - United Arab Emirates
  •    - Yemen
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 02/02/2018, 11.28


    'Block 9': new front in Israeli-Lebanese confrontation

    Pierre Balanian

    The threats of Avigdor Liebermann and the affirmations of Michel Aoun. Protected maritime drilling for the exploitation of gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean. According to the UN maps, 860 sq km belong to Lebanon, but Israel does not agree. Smoke bombs on Lebanese beaches; Israeli lookouts encroach on the territorial waters of Lebanon. Hezbollah used as a deterrent. For Israeli strategists, a war against Beirut is too risky.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) - The "Block 9" sectors of natural gas and oil wells in Lebanese territorial waters could become a new "casus belli" between Israel and Lebanon. We may not have arrived yet at open conflict, but to yesterday’s declarations by the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to a group of visitors "Lebanon has moved to counter Israeli claims through the diplomatic channels affirming its right to defend its sovereignty and the security of its territories by all opportune means ".

    Michel Aoun’s words come as a first response to the statements made yesterday by the Israeli defence minister Avigdor Liebermann for whom Lebanon’s "request for tenders" for the extraction of gas and oil from "Block 9" is "a provocation" , with the threat that there cannot be "children playing on the beaches of Beirut while others are sleeping in shelters in Tel Aviv".

    President Aoun considered Libermann's "Block 9" position in the "pure economic zone of Lebanon" to be "serious" and added that "we should be careful of the plots of our Israeli enemy especially taking into account that those who work to create an atmosphere consistent with Israeli threats, with various alibis, to attack Lebanon and its right to invest its resources in gas and oil are found both inside as well as outside the country".

    The presence of oil and gas wells in the waters of Lebanon dates to 2004. At the time, the  Lebanese didn’t fully understand why a French ship was scouring the Lebanese coast for months, in full agreement with the then premier Rafik Al Hariri [who was later assassinated], and the French president Jacques Chirac. Shortly thereafter, rumours began to emerge of the discovery of huge reserves of natural gas in the territorial waters of the Land of the Cedars. In 2009, an American company confirmed the discovery and announced that the waters of the eastern Mediterranean area are home to approximately 83,000 sq km of oil and gas wells, specifically in the waters between Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus and the entire Syrian coast, in short from Sinai to the border with Turkey. In this way, the eastern Mediterranean region becomes the area with the highest amount of gas reserves in the world, surpassing Qatar and Azerbaijan. The part belonging to Lebanon would amount to 22 thousand square kilometers.


    Among the first to compete in the tender launched by Lebanon for Blocks 9 and 4, there are three countries: Russia, France and Italy. Their representatives are expected in Beirut on  February 9 for the signing of contracts and the launch of drilling works. Meanwhile, Israel is about to drill a well 3 km from "Block 9": hence Beirut's concern that Tel Aviv could suck up a substantial amount from the Lebanese natural wells.

    "Block 9" is located between 1211 and 1909 meters below sea level. The "disputed" border areas between Israel and Lebanon are about 860 square kilometres that Lebanon believes belong to them on the basis of maps deposited at the UN and recognized as Lebanese by international law.

    In 2017 an agreement was reached between Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel for the construction of a submarine gas pipeline at a cost of 6 billion euro, for the transportation of gas from the Middle East to Europe.

    Yesterday morning, some Lebanese who were walking in Al Wazzani, on the border with Israel, were surprised by the launch of a smoke bomb. Meanwhile, two Israeli lookouts have violated the maritime borders of Lebanon, and the Lebanese government denounced the UN peacekeeping forces, Unifil.

    The sale of natural gas is a boon that could help Lebanon to heal its foreign debt, among the highest in the world, which has reached the figure of 77 billion dollars.

    Israeli press has long debated the possibility of a war against Lebanon stating that military strategists maintain that Israel and especially the infantry is not ready to guarantee a victory. They also state that any war with Lebanon will be very expensive with serious damage and loss, due to the huge amount of Hezbollah weapons - especially missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. In addition, the combat experience gained by Hezbollah fighters in the battles in Syria and Iraq must be borne in mind.

    For Lebanese analysts it is difficult for Israel to start a war against Lebanon for gas, offering Hezbollah a unique opportunity to appear as a defender of Lebanon on a matter that enjoys the unanimous and popular consensus of all Lebanese, as is the issue of oil and gas resources and national sovereignty.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    03/08/2010 LEBANON – ISRAEL
    Four die in Israel-Lebanon troop clash
    The two governments blame each other for today’s deadly clash and breach of UN Resolution 1701. The dead are Lebanese, three soldiers and a journalist. However, Hizbollah says Israel also suffered one casualty.

    05/08/2010 LEBANON – ISRAEL
    United Nations backs Israel on border incident
    UNIFIL says Israeli soldiers were cutting tree to put up camera on their side of the border. Hizbollah and Israeli PM Netanyahu issue threats. Barak tries to be reassuring.

    16/07/2008 ISRAEL – LEBANON
    Prisoner exchange, Goldwasser and Regev return to Israel, dead
    The families of the abducted soldiers held hope till the end that they might be alive. The entire Israeli cabinet approved the swap yesterday. Israel will send back five Hizbollah prisoners, including Samir Kuntar, who killed four Israelis. The remains of 199 Lebanese and Palestinian militants will also be handed over.

    08/01/2009 ISRAEL – LEBANON
    Will rockets from Lebanon against northern Israel open a new front?
    Five Israelis in the Galilee are slightly wounded. Israel’s army fires back. No one claims responsibility but the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is thought to be behind the attack. Hizbollah issues threats as Iranian leader Larijani is in Damascus to meet Khaled Meshaal and other pro-Tehran Palestinian groups. In Gaza toll tops 700 dead and more than 3,000 wounded.

    21/10/2010 LEBANON
    UN tribunal reconstructs blast that killed Rafik Hariri
    The Special Tribunal for Lebanon continues its investigation into the murder of the Lebanese leader. Hizbollah continues to put pressure on Prime Minister Saad Hariri to distance himself from the tribunal, demanding that it look into possible Israeli involvement.

    Editor's choices

    The tears of Chinese bishops. A portrait of Msgr. Zhuang, bishop of Shantou

    Padre Pietro

    A priest of the official Church, recalls the 88 year old bishop that the Vatican wants to replace with an illegitimate bishop, to please the regime. Mons. Zhuang Jianjian became an underground bishop at the behest of the Vatican in 2006. Card. Zen and Msgr. Zhuang, image of the faithful Church, "which provokes an immense sadness and a sense of impotence". The hopes of card. Parolin to console "the past and present sufferings of Chinese Catholics".

    Card. Zen on the bishops of Shantou and Mindong

    Card. Joseph Zen

    The bishop emeritus of Hong Kong confirms the information published in recent days by AsiaNews and reveals details of his conversation with Pope Francis on these topics: "Do not create another Mindszenty case", the primate of Hungary whom the Vatican forced to leave the country, appointing a successor in Budapest, at the will of the communist government of the time. 


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSSRSS channel 


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®