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Hezbollah warns Israel against ' stealing' gas

The leader of Lebanon' s Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group has warned Israel against trying to steal Lebanon' s maritime resources and said it would retaliate against any Israeli attack on the country' s oil and gas installations, the Associated Press reported.

The two nations have been battling over their maritime border and huge natural gas and oil reserves beneath the Mediterranean Sea for years.

Lebanon has submitted its own sea boundary proposal to the United Nations, and the Israeli government earlier this month approved a conflicting proposal that it also sent to the world body. Lebanon called the Israeli proposal a violation of international law and Lebanese sovereignty.

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah recently urged the Lebanese government to ratify a law which has already been discussed in parliament to pave the way for companies to start exploring off its coast.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which dominates Lebanese politics and battled Israel in a monthlong war in 2006, has threatened to use force to protect Lebanon' s natural wealth. Israel' s National Infrastructure Minister, Uzi Landau, has said Israel would use force to defend its gas fields.

Over the past two years, Israel has discovered two fields thought to contain about 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. The discoveries, notable in a country lacking in natural resources, are believed to be enough to make Israel energy self-sufficient for decades.

The gas discoveries have created a new source of friction between the two countries, which have clashed repeatedly.




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