In Beirut, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad heads discuss ‘next stage’ of anti-Israel action

Nasrallah and Nakhaleh review latest Gaza-Israel conflict and ‘the expected roles of the various parties in the axis of resistance’ going forward

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (right) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Nakhaleh meet in Lebanon, August 24, 2022. (Twitter)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (right) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Nakhaleh meet in Lebanon, August 24, 2022. (Twitter)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Nakhaleh in Lebanon on Wednesday and discussed regional developments, including in Gaza and the West Bank, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen.

The meeting was held in a southern suburb of Beirut, the report said, with the two sides reviewing recent events in the Palestinian territories and the results of this month’s round of fighting between Israeli forces and PIJ terrorists in Gaza, dubbed by Israel Operation Breaking Dawn.

Nasrallah and Nakhaleh assessed the battle on the field, as well as its “political and media levels,” the report said.

The report also suggested potential future cooperation between the two terror organizations, saying the pair discussed “the expected roles of the various parties in the axis of resistance in the next stage.”

The report did not elaborate on what that “next stage” could entail.

The meeting comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Hezbollah over offshore fields thought to hold natural gas deposits and repeated threats by Nasrallah that have raised concerns in Israel over a potential flare-up on its northern border.

Israel and Lebanon have been engaged for over a year in US-brokered talks aimed at resolving the dispute over some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea that both countries claim for themselves.

Lebanon has further argued that Israel’s Karish gas field is in the disputed territory, while Israel insists it lies within its internationally recognized economic waters.

In early July, Hezbollah sent several drones to the Karish field, which were downed by the Israeli military.

Nasrallah has recently escalated his rhetoric on the issue, warning in a televised speech last month, days after sending the drones, that his group’s provocations were “only the beginning.”

Earlier in August, he said that “the hand that reaches for any of [Lebanon’s] wealth will be severed” and over the weekend warned of an “escalation” if Lebanon’s demands aren’t met in the US-mediated maritime talks.

A sea-based Iron Dome air defense system is seen on a Navy ship, guarding the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Statements such as “We will reach Karish and everything beyond Karish and everything beyond that,” as well as “War is much more honorable than the situation Lebanon is heading to now — collapse and starvation,” have prompted Israel to ramp up defenses for the floating rig.

Israel and Lebanon, meanwhile, are said to be nearing an agreement over the maritime border dispute. But Israeli officials have raised concerns that Hezbollah may seek more provocations to create the impression that it is responsible for any concessions Israel may agree to as part of the deal.

On Monday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned the Lebanon-based Shiite terror group that any attack on Israeli gas assets could spark a war.

“We are strong and prepared for this scenario, but we don’t want it,” Gantz said.

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