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IDF said to lower alert level on northern border after Lebanon-Israel maritime deal

Readiness had been raised in July when Hezbollah terror group flew drones toward Karish gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast

Israeli soldier stands guard at a position in Rosh HaNikra in northern Israel along the border area with Lebanon's southern Naqoura, on October 27, 2022 (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israeli soldier stands guard at a position in Rosh HaNikra in northern Israel along the border area with Lebanon's southern Naqoura, on October 27, 2022 (Jack Guez/AFP)

The alert level on Israel’s northern border has been lowered after Israel and Lebanon’s landmark maritime border deal went into effect, it was reported Friday.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the level of readiness has now been reduced — it was raised in July when the Israel Defense Forces said it successfully intercepted four Hezbollah drones heading for the Karish gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast.

Israel and Lebanon’s landmark maritime deal went into effect Thursday evening after a ceremony at a UN base near the border, ending years of conflict over the matter and repeated saber-rattling by the Hezbollah terror group.

Israel and Lebanon are technically still at war and the deal does not touch on the land border.

However, the maritime border deal could not be signed by Lebanon without the consent of the Iran-backed terror group.

After the agreement was sealed on Thursday, Hezbollah said it would end its special mobilization against Israel, having threatened to attack if Jerusalem began extracting natural gas at the Karish drilling site before a deal was finalized. Gas extraction began at Karish on Wednesday.

This picture taken on October 27, 2022, shows a view of the border fence separating Israel and Lebanon near Rosh HaNikra in northern Israel, while a watchtower used by fighters of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is seen behind (Jack Guez/AFP)

“All the exceptional and special measures and mobilization carried out by the resistance for several months are now declared over,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech, calling the agreement a “great victory for Lebanon.”

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006 and the Shiite terror group has an arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets and missiles.

“Our mission is complete,” Nasrallah said, adding that the deal “is not an international treaty and it is not a recognition of Israel.”

Nasrallah’s comments came hours after Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the agreement represented de facto recognition of Israel by Lebanon.

While Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun rejected this claim, the chief Lebanese negotiator spoke of “a new era” and invoked the Abraham Accords treaties between Israel and other regional states.

A Lebanese navy patrol boat sails in the Mediterranean sea waters on its side of the maritime border off of Lebanon’s southern coast near Rosh HaNikra in northern Israel on October 27, 2022 (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The deal came as Lebanon hopes to extract itself from what the World Bank calls one of the worst economic crises in modern world history, and as Lapid sought to lock in a major achievement, days ahead of a general election on November 1.

The agreement ends a long-running dispute over some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea, covering Israel’s Karish and Lebanon’s Qana gas fields.

Under the deal, Israel receives recognition for a buoy-marked boundary it established in 2000, five kilometers (3.1 miles) off the coast of the northern town of Rosh Hanikra.

After that, Israel’s border will follow the southern edge of the disputed area known as Line 23.

Lebanon will enjoy the economic benefits of the area north of Line 23, including the Qana field, while Israel moves ahead with gas production at the Karish field and will receive revenues from Qana if and when it begins operations.

AFP contributed to this report.

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