Hezbollah planned to attack Israeli or Jewish tourists, Cyprus confirms

The Cypriot Foreign Minister yesterday confirmed that the recent arrest of a Lebanese-Christian man on the island had likely prevented an attack by Hezbollah on Israeli or Jewish targets.

The unnamed man was arrested last month following surveillance on the home in which he had been living. When authorities raided the property, they found almost two tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in 420 boxes in the property’s basement. Following the arrest, Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon suggested that Israelis were the prime target of a planned terror attack. He said that Cypriot authorities indicated that the property “was being used by Hezbollah’s international terrorism network” and that explosives were to be manufactured “apparently meant to be ready for attacks on us.”

Ya’alon’s suggestion appeared to be confirmed yesterday by Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who according to Reuters was asked whether Israelis or Jews on Cyprus were the intended target of a Hezbollah attack. Kasoulides replied, “Your information you mentioned is correct.” Asked specifically if a Hezbollah bomb plot had been thwarted, he replied “Most probably.” Reuters quotes an unnamed senior Israeli official who said that the ammonium nitrate was not earmarked for a specific attack, but was rather “on hand” for future bombings.

In March 2013, a Cypriot court found a dual Lebanese-Swedish citizen guilty of helping Hezbollah plan an attack on Israeli tourists on the island. During the trial, the defendant gave details of meetings with his Hezbollah handler and said that he had staked out locations in Cyprus known to be popular with Israeli tourists.

Hezbollah’s determination to target Israeli citizens across the world was most brutally highlighted by an attack in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas which killed five Israeli tourists in 2012. A subsequent Bulgarian investigation concluded that Hezbollah was responsible. The European Union has since  classified Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.

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