Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, Hassan Nasrallah, said yesterday that his movement will not allow Israel to extract gas from the disputed maritime area unless Lebanon gets its share, Israel’s Kan channel reported.

“War is not inevitable, but Hezbollah will respond to any attack by Israel,” Nasrallah is reported to have said, adding that confrontation with Israel is “possible” but it is not the best option.

“Rather, we seek to obtain our rights through pressure on the American and Israeli sides, especially in light of the continued deterioration of the economic situation in Lebanon” he said, noting that Lebanon “will not surrender or bow to any party.”

Nasrallah explained that the US mediator in the border demarcation negotiations has not come up with a clear answer, although Lebanon made great concessions, and the minimum requests demanded by Lebanon were not even met.

“We hope that we will not fire a bullet or a missile, and that Israel will back down. We are waiting for developments and are ready for any scenario” he added.

Lebanon and Israel are engaged in a dispute over a maritime area that is 860 square kilometres (332 square miles), according to maps sent by both counties to the UN in 2011.

The area is rich with natural gas and oil. Five sessions of indirect negotiations were held between Lebanon and Israel under UN sponsorship and US mediation. The last round of talks was in May 2021, but were halted because of major differences.

Israel has begun gas exploration in the disputed region, which it says lies within its maritime border.