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Israel says it helped foil Iranian-ordered attack on Israelis in Cyprus (Update)

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Israel helped Cyprus foil an Iranian-ordered attack against Israelis and Jews on the island, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Sunday, as Cypriot authorities remained tight-lipped citing national security issues.

Cypriot police sources confirmed two Iranian nationals had been remanded in custody after their earlier arrest. Citing national security issues both police and the government remained tight-lipped over further details, though reports suggested the two suspects were arrested in November.

They are believed to have come to the Republic from the north.

“Thanks to the counter-terrorist action and the arrest of the cell by the Cypriot security services, considerable information was obtained, which led to the discovery of the attackers, their modus operandi, the targets of the attack and the Iranian plan to kill innocents in Cyprus and elsewhere,” Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad said.

According to Kathimerini newspaper which broke the story, the suspects were in the early stages of gathering intelligence on potential Israeli targets.

The arrest was eventually confirmed by Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, in a statement by the Israeli PM’s office.

It highlighted 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”.

A government source told the Cyprus News Agency that the matter concerned “sensitive national security matters” and as such, it would not be appropriate to provide further comment.

According to the Times of Israel, the two suspects are Mohammad Reza Ebadi Arablu and Sa’id Ebadi. The paper said Arablu has links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, and had been implicated in a past assassination plot against a prominent Israeli-Georgian businessman.

At least one of the suspects was reported to have multiple travel documents.

Israel’s National Security Council said that “since the outbreak of the war, many Israelis have gone to stay in Cyprus.” In October, the Cyprus Mail reported there were around 10,000 Israeli nationals living in Cyprus.

The security council added “the Iranian presence in northern Cyprus, as well as the prior and current use of that area for terrorist purposes and as an area of activity and transit to attack Israeli and Jewish targets, constitutes a disturbing issue.”

In June, Mossad arrested an Iranian citizen, who according to the intelligence agency, confessed he was planning an attack against an Israeli businessman living in Limassol. Netanyahu said the attack had been thwarted. Tehran denied being behind any alleged plot to attack Israelis in Cyprus.

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