Cyprus Terror Plot Against Israelis Is ‘Warning Signal’ From Iran, Says Lapid, But Security Forces Can ‘Handle Threats’
The attempted terror plot against Israelis in Cyprus allegedly orchestrated by Iran was a “warning signal,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday, as Israeli media reported that the attack was planned as revenge for the 2020 targeted killing of a key Iranian nuclear scientist.
“There are security threats. I am not saying that what happened is not a warning signal, but our security forces from the Mossad and the Shin Bet are there and know how to handle them,” Lapid told reporters. “Israelis will continue to travel the world and do business. What is important is that Israelis are cautious and listen carefully to warnings by security forces and the defense establishment. But overall, the State of Israel knows how to protect its citizens.”
The comments come as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office disclosed earlier on Monday that a “terrorist incident directed by Iran against Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus” was thwarted in recent days, and a suspected gunman was arrested.
“Iran continues to be a global and regional threat as well as a challenge to Israel,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “We will continue to act to protect our citizens and the security of the State of Israel everywhere and in the face of any threat.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s Kan news channel reported that the attempted terror plot was an act of retaliation by Iran for the 2020 assassination of its chief nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. It is not clear whether the Iranians sought to harm the businessmen because they were Israelis, or if they thought they were connected to the security forces in Israel, the report said, without specifying a source for the information.
The Mossad intelligence service was involved in passing the information about the planned attack to security bodies in Cyprus, it said.
“Iran continues its attempts to attack Israeli civilian targets around the world through the Quds Force. So far, Iran has struggled to carry out an effective attack on Israel’s borders and is therefore looking for other courses of action,” commented Israel-based Alma Research & Education Center, which researches security challenges on the country’s northern borders.
Iran’s embassy in Cyprus denied responsibility for the attack in a statement to Reuters, saying, in reference to Israel, “this regime is always making such a baseless allegation against the Islamic Republic of Iran.