Israel’s exploitation of Arab land and resources began in the early 20th century as it moved to create a state for itself in Palestine. Over the years, the Zionist occupation has caused unimaginable suffering and repercussions that are still felt deeply today. However the crimes did not stop there. An emboldened Israel has over the decades unilaterally usurped more land and more resources from the Arabs.
In 1967 it occupied the Sinai and the Golan Heights from Egypt and Syria respectively, it occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem as well. In the 1980s Israel invaded Lebanon where it illegally annexed the Shebaa farms. However, the Israeli regime was not content with merely stealing the land— it has systematically moved to usurp the natural resources found abundant in the lands.
It has siphoned off the majority of the water share in the West Bank for the illegal colonies it has built there, leaving Palestinians high and dry. It has exploited the Dead Sea resources which are shared with Jordan by selling off beauty products made from the sea’s rich minerals.
Now, it has turned its attention to the lucrative possibilities of gas exploration in the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon’s long overdue decision to drill for oil and gas reserves in an offshore water area has irked Israel, which falsely claims that part of the triangular water area, known as Block 9, is theirs.
In mid-February US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelled to Lebanon hoping to defuse tension by peddling a 2012 demarcation line originally put forth by senior US diplomat Fred C. Hoff. It gave Israel one third of the disputed 860 square kilometres of water in the triangular zone, leaving Lebanon with 550 square kilometres only. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri snapped that the “Hoff Line” was “unacceptable”, while Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah called on all Lebanese to reject the US proposal, saying: “This is a battle for all of Lebanon.”
Israel is now trying to steal what it can snatch, wrongly thinking that Lebanon is weak and divided. Israel thrives on the division of its Arab neighbours. Divided Lebanese politicians need to put aside their differences and decisively stand against Israel’s attempted robbery of its natural resources. For decades Israel has been able to get away with murder simply because it has the power to do so. However, it must learn there is a red line that cannot be crossed and know that its transgressions will be opposed by any means necessary. A united position strengthens Lebanon in any negotiations or confrontation.