Hebzollah says it is “close” to “defeating Israel “by land and air”.

The head of the Executive Council of the Shiite militia-party Hezbollah, Hashem Safiedin, stressed Monday that the group “is close” to “defeating” Israel “by land and air”, amid the upturn in tensions in recent months.

“We are close to defeating the Israelis by land and air, if we want to, and we will decide when to do it,” he said, before assuring that it is not the Israeli Army that has the initiative on this matter.

Safiedin stressed that the group does not want a war to break out, but added that it “is prepared on all fronts,” Lebanese news portal Naharnet reported. “The more pressure is put on our country, the more determination, strength and solidity will increase,” he concluded.

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Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in early July that the Lebanese government “must keep under control” Hezbollah and warned that otherwise the Israeli authorities “will have to do so.”

Lapid’s remarks came after the Israeli Army announced the downing of three Hezbollah drones allegedly headed for the Karish gas field in Mediterranean waters. Tensions have risen in recent weeks following the arrival of Israeli ships to begin extraction, prompting criticism from Beirut.

Israel and Lebanon — which are technically at war and do not maintain diplomatic relations — initiated in October 2020 a process of indirect talks mediated by the United States and held under UN auspices at the international body’s headquarters in the Lebanese city of Naqura.

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The negotiations revolve around an area of 860 square kilometers which, according to both countries, lie in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones, an issue of particular importance following the discovery of gas reserves in this area which both Israel and Lebanon hope to exploit.

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