In response to Lebanese claims that natural gas fields found by Israel are located in their territorial waters, Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said that that if need be, Israel will defend the rule of law and added: “The areas are part of Israeli territory.”

Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau said in an interview to Bloomberg News that Israel is prepared to use force to protect its natural gas fields. This comes in response to Lebanese claims that the fields are located in Lebanon’s territorial waters.

“We will not hesitate to use force and our strength to defend not only the rule of law, but also the international maritime law,” Landau said, and added that the other side will always have something to say. “Our very existence here is considered occupation for them. These natural gas discoveries are located in Israel’s territorial waters.”

Minister Landau also said that Israel is in close contact with Cypress regarding the gas fields and is working to formalize an agreement with her concerning maritime borders. According to him, there is no disagreement with Cypress with regard to Israel’s rights to the gas in the Leviathan and Tamar fields.

It should be noted that two weeks ago, Lebanon’s parliamentary spokesman, Nabia Bari, said that Israel is ignoring the fact that according to maps, the gas sites touch Lebanese territorial waters. Lebanon’s minister of energy, Jibran Ba’asil, said last week that his country “will not allow Israel or any company working for Israel’s interests to take any amount of gas, as it is located in our territory.”

At the beginning of this month, the Lebanese newspaper A-Sapir claimed that the maps prove that the Leviathan field, the gigantic field of natural gas discovered in northern Israel, is actually located in Lebanese territory. This comes after a report a week beforehand in which the Noble Energy company announced that there are stores of around 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas at the Leviathan drilling site. (The commercial viability of the discovery has not as yet been verified.)

On the heels of the announcement, which joins the Tamar field where 8.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were discovered, in Israel they announced that the time of foreign dependence for natural gas has come to an end. The Lebanese newspaper claimed that Noble Energy’s drilling operations were performed across from the Lebanese coast in an area located between “the international borders of the waters of Palestine and the waters of Cypress.”

Also, in the middle of this month, the Iranian newspaper The Tehran Times published warnings issued by Hizballah concerning the natural gas stores across Israel’s coast. According to the report, Hizballah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said that his organization will not allow Israel to take advantage of Lebanese gas stores.

Partners invested in the Tamer field are Delek Group, headed by Yitzhak Tshuva, Isramco, Dor Alon, and American Noble Energy, which is also overseeing the drilling. At Leviathian, the investment partners are Delek Group, Noble Energy, and Ratio Yam.