Israel PM accuses Hezbollah of Cyprus attack plot

JERUSALEM Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:01pm IST

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem July 15, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem July 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Related Topics

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel accused Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas and Iran on Sunday of plotting to attack its citizens in Cyprus after police on the Mediterranean island arrested a foreigner on suspicion of security offences.

The suspect, who was arrested in Limassol port on July 7, was described by Cypriot media as a Swedish passport-holder of Lebanese descent.

He was detained after tracking the movement Of Israeli tourists on the island, according to some reports, but has not been charged with any crime.

In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident "the attempted terrorist attack by Hezbollah against an Israeli target in Cyprus". He accused the Shi'ite guerrilla group's sponsor, Iran, of overall responsibility.

Israeli diplomats have been targeted in several countries in recent months by bombers who Israel said struck on behalf of Iran.

Though Tehran has denied involvement, some analysts believe it is trying to avenge the assassinations of several scientists from its controversial nuclear programme, which the Iranians have blamed on Israel and its Western allies.

"This terror is conducted under Iran's auspices. It is part of the Iranian plan," Netanyahu said in the statement.

Hezbollah has its own scores to settle with the Jewish state. Two years after their 2006 border war, the Lebanese militia lost its commander to a Damascus car bomb it said was the work of Israeli spies, and vowed revenge.

ATTACKS

Israel has since said it has foiled several Hezbollah attacks on its citizens abroad.

In Beirut, Hezbollah had no immediate comment on Israel's allegation on Sunday.

Nicosia has been reticent about the case. Its police spokesman said on Saturday a 24-year-old foreigner was in custody "for specific, serious offences". He did not elaborate.

Cypriot Justice and Public Order Minister Loucas Louca said authorities were awaiting for the results of their investigation before releasing further information.

"This is a serious and delicate case and any statements may harm the case," he told reporters on Sunday.

A Cypriot government source said the arrest took place following information from foreign intelligence agencies.

An Israeli official said Israel's Mossad spy service was involved in the investigation. Asked if a Mossad tip-off had prompted the arrest, the official declined comment.

The suspect's reported July 5 arrival on Cyprus coincided with the country assuming the presidency of the European Union, an event marked by the gathering of a host of EU officials and commissioners on the island.

Cyprus lies just west of Syria and Lebanon but has been largely unscathed by the violence and upheaval in the Middle East.

Its last major security incident was a botched car bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in May 1988, which killed three people.

(Additional reporting by Michele Kambas in Nicosia; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Pravin Char)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Gaza Attack

Gaza Attack

At least 15 dead in Israeli shelling of Gaza school - Health Ministry.  Full Article 

Ukraine PM Resigns

Ukraine PM Resigns

Ukrainian prime minister tenders his resignation in parliament.  Full Article 

Health Crisis

Health Crisis

Myanmar Muslims in remote Rakhine suffer worsening health crisis.  Full Article 

Afghan Election

Afghan Election

Afghan vote recount moves at snail's pace, rival sides far apart.  Full Article 

Iraq Government

Iraq Government

Iraq elects president as Ban urges unity to save nation.  Full Article 

Freedom at Last

Freedom at Last

Death row Christian woman flies out of Sudan, meets Pope.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage