Lebanese leaders claim that the new Israeli border wall is a threat to Lebanese sovereignty and regional stability, reported Reuters. In order to prevent a further escalation, Israeli and Lebanese officials have reached out to various members of the international community for support.
Israel began building an alleged $28 million wall on its northern border in early February. With reservations located on the border, Lebanese officials have criticized this as act of Israeli “aggression.” Lebanese officials claim that the wall trespasses on Lebanese territory.
After a meeting with senior government and military officials, Saadallah Mohyi Eddin el-Hamad, the secretary-general of Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council, stated that, “This wall, if it is built, will be considered an assault on Lebanese land,” reported Al Arabiya.
He went on to claim that, “The Higher Defence Council has given its instructions to confront this aggression to prevent Israel from building [the wall]on Lebanese territory.”
Despite previously claiming that the wall is in its territory, Israeli officials have yet to respond to the recent comments from Lebanese officials.
Although Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 in response to militant activity by Hezbollah, there has been relative calm along the frontier since.
The border conflict is happening concurrently with maritime and airspace disputes, as reported in the Caravel. In recent weeks, the Lebanese government started accepting bids for an offshoring gas and oil project in the Mediterranean. The area being considered for drilling is an unresolved triangular area of sea with an area of about 330 square miles, according to Reuters.
At an international security conference, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described Lebanese offshoring as “very provocative,” saying it would be a mistake for international firms to participate.
Reuters reported that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said that these comments were among several “threatening” messages that Lebanon had received from Israel in the past few days. In addition, Hezbollah responded by saying the comments are “a new aggression” and they would “decisively confront any assault on our oil and gas rights.”
In an attempt to de-escalate tensions, David Satterfield, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, visited Israel and Lebanon over the past week. After meeting with Israeli officials, Satterfield “assured the Lebanese that Israel does not want escalation.”
In response to the multiple border conflicts, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil sent a letter to the United Nations affirming Lebanese sovereignty and economic interests.
However, according to Reuters, the spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said that the fence was being built within Israeli territory. Additionally, it promised that the “situation was calm” and that it had troops on the ground.