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Israel praises Cyprus for foiling terror plot

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The Israeli government has claimed that Cypriot authorities have thwarted an Iranian plot to carry out an attack against Israelis in Cyprus.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Sunday expressing satisfaction over preventing the attack “planned against Israeli targets”.

The office said Israel “operates through a wide variety of methods worldwide to protect Jews and Israelis and will continue to act to undermine Iranian terrorism wherever it arises”.

According to Sunday’s Phileleftheros, coordination between Cypriot, American and Israeli security agencies foiled an attack against Israelis and Jews in Cyprus.

Phileleftheros newspaper said the planned hit was believed to be linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Cyprus is a popular destination for Israeli tourists, with a sizable expat community and strong political ties based on shared energy endeavours.

After following the group for several months, the newspaper said Cypriot intelligence services thwarted the plot – cooperating with Israel and the US.

It said authorities closely followed movements and foiled the attack recently – without elaborating.

Reportedly, although the main perpetrator did not proceed with hitting Israeli targets, he managed to escape, but the equipment used was recovered.

There was no immediate confirmation from Cypriot officials or whether an international arrest warrant would be issued as claimed.

When contacted by the Financial Mirror, the police said they did not comment on matters of national security.

According to Phileleftheros, the terror cell used the Turkish-held northern part of the divided island to organise their forays into the government-controlled south of the island.

An unnamed official told the newspaper that stopping the attack signalled that Cyprus had “Zero tolerance” for such terrorist acts.

He said, “No illusions should be created that Cyprus is the weak link due to the ‘security hole’ created by the occupied territories”.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third in response to a coup that had sought to unite the island with Greece.

The failed plot is also linked to a similar case several years ago when an Azeri hitman was caught allegedly trying to kill Israeli businessmen in 2021.

He was arrested in September 2021 while crossing to the Turkish-occupied north carrying a gun.

Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, said it was actively involved in preventing the contract killing of Israeli businessmen living in Cyprus.

The incident had sparked a diplomatic incident with Israel and Tehran, as it alleged the Azeri was recruited by its arch-foe Iran.

However, Iran has refuted any involvement in the case.