NICOSIA – Police on Cyprus said they arrested two people for “national security” reasons after media reports that two Iranians were suspected of planning attacks on Israelis who fled to the island during Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Other media reports had said that Iran was taking part in proxy wars against Israeli targets even before Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 raided Israel and killed 1,400 people which led to Israel’s retaliation.
Police would only confirm to Agence France-Presse that they had made arrests, but could not divulge any details. “We are investigating a terrorism-related case,” a police spokesperson said.
According to newspaper Kathimerini Cyprus, two Iranians were arrested and are awaiting deportation for plotting to attack Israelis living on the island that’s become a haven for them to avoid the war.
The report said that the two, political refugees with probable links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had been in the early stages of gathering intelligence about targets.
“Cyprus’s state intelligence services closely followed the movements of the two Iranians over the past two months and managed to prevent possible terrorist acts in time,” the paper said without without revealing its sources.
It is the third reported case of plots against Israelis in Cyprus over the past two years. In June, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency said it had detained an Iranian it said was behind a thwarted terrorist attack against Israeli targets on the island.
In September 2021, Cyprus police arrested an Azeri with a gun who was trying to cross to the Turkish-occupied north of the island at the same time that Mossad said it had prevented the killing of Israeli business people living in Cyprus.
Cyprus already had a growing number of Israelis living there and doing business even before the war that had sparked fears that the conflict could spread and see Israelis living in other countries come under attack as well.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office also reported the planned attack and said other plots were on the rise since the Gaza war erupted and split the world into supporters of the Palestinian side and Israel.
Netanyahu’s office gave no details of the planned attack but said in the statement on behalf of the Mossad intelligence service that Israel was “troubled” by what it saw as Iranian use of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus “both for terrorism objectives and as an operational and transit area,” said Reuters.
The breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praising Hamas as freedom fighters after they tortured children and burned them alive.
Erdogan added that it was the Israelis who were terrorists and to blame for the conflict by keeping Palestinians confined to the Gaza Strip and limiting their rights, which he said fueled what Hamas did, applauding them.