A senior IDF naval officer confirmed this week that Hezbollah — Iran’s proxy Shi’ite terror organization based in Lebanon — now possesses missiles that could cause serious damage to the natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea that provide Israel with 60 percent of its electricity.
While the missile threat from Hezbollah is normally focused on Israel’s urban centers, the officer told a group of Israeli military correspondents that a strike on one of the three natural gas fields currently in production could wreak similar havoc to a missile strike on a city. “There is no real substitute for gas,” the officer said. “Diesel fuel can last for a few days, but our energy future is gas, and it is impossible to conduct a long military campaign if the foundations are not operating.”
The officer said that missiles provided by the Iranian regime to Hezbollah can cover the entire range of Israel’s natural gas assets, situated between 70 and 110 miles from its shoreline. Israeli military planners have purchased special protective ships from Germany to secure the offshore gas rigs, but the first of the four Sa’ar 6 vessels is not scheduled for deployment until 2020.
The IDF’s concern about protecting the natural gas fields was heightened by Hezbollah’s intervention on Tuesday into the mushrooming dispute between Israel and the Lebanese government over drilling rights in the Mediterranean. Lebanon is claiming exclusive ownership of “Block 9” — an area of 330 square miles alongside the border line between Lebanon and Israel that the Beirut government has already opened to foreign natural gas companies.
Last December, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri granted licenses to a consortium of three international companies — Italy’s Eni, France’s Total and Russia’s Novatek — to determine the level of natural gas reserves in Block 9. Israel condemned Hariri’s decision at the time as a “very provocative” move upon an area that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman described as “ours, by any standard.”
Videos and flyers released by Hezbollah on Tuesday showed images of Israel’s offshore gas rigs alongside footage of missile launches.
Israel has 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, with natural gas scheduled to provide 75 percent of the Jewish state’s energy needs within the next decade.