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Israeli matches won’t be held in Cyprus due to security

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File photo

A request to hold matches of two Israeli teams in Cyprus was rejected for security reasons, the justice ministry said on Monday.

Justice Minister Anna Procopiou told state broadcaster CyBC that the security of citizens is the top priority.

“What comes first for the state is the safety of the citizens, and taking into account all the information, we decided that the requests for the football matches should not be met with a positive response,” the minister said.

The teams themselves had reportedly offered to pay the cost of extra security. On November 9 the Europa League match between Maccabi Haifa and Villarreal was played at the AEK Arena in Larnaca.

Procopiou added that heightened security measures are being taken by the police, after evaluating new evidence from foreign agencies about developments in the Middle East.

She said security had been heightened in areas viewed as potential targets.

Over the weekend police in Larnaca were investigating an incident against an individual said to be a charity director working to send aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

The man found a gruesome scene of a pig’s head hanging from his door handle with a threatening note in its mouth.

He said the threat came from Jewish individuals in Cyprus and that he was targeted after meetings with members of the Palestinian community on the island, and more specifically the ambassador.

A publicised photograph of the note read: 48 hours, if you are still in Cyprus the next head on the door is going to be yours.

Earlier last week, the operation of a new anti-terrorism police unit was confirmed, aimed at preventing attacks against both Palestinians and Israelis on the island.

Police said district units are being reinforced with more staff and national guard officers are permanently stationed at the airports.

An investigation is still ongoing over two lists that were leaked naming Israeli entities in Limassol deemed at risk of attack.

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