JERUSALEM: Israel on Monday accused Iran of plotting “terrorist” attacks against Israeli businessmen in Cyprus, but dismissed reports that Israeli-Cypriot billionaire Teddy Sagi was targeted for the assassination.
Cyprus news outlet Philnews reported last week that an Azeri national was arrested in Nicosia after police found a pistol with a silencer in his car.
According to the report, the man was suspected of being an assassin targeting “Israelis with commercial activity in Cyprus”.
Citing reports, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “I can clarify on behalf of the security establishment that this was an act of terror carried out by Iran against Israeli businessmen living in Cyprus. “
Bennett’s spokesman, Matan Sidi, added: “Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi was not the target of the attack.”
Some Israeli media have reported that Sagi – a magnate involved in online gambling and real estate, among other ventures – may have been targeted over a business dispute.
Other Israeli reports linked the alleged Azeri hitman to arch-enemy Iran.
Iran and Israel are engaged in a so-called “shadow war”, involving several alleged attacks on Israeli and Iranian ships over the summer, which both have accused each other of.
Iran has also accused Israel of killing scientists and destroying the sites of its nuclear program, which it says is only for civilian purposes.
Israel says Iran is committed to developing nuclear weapons, sowing widespread unrest by supplying its armed drones to allied groups throughout the region.
Addressing the UN General Assembly this week, Bennett claimed that Iran “spreading its genocide and destruction around the Middle East”, calling its new ultra-conservative president Ibrahim Raisi “the butcher of Tehran”.
He said Israel “will not allow” Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
The Islamic republic has stepped up its nuclear activities after a landmark 2015 agreement that withdrew its program in exchange for sanctions relief in 2018.
Iran said on Monday it expects nuclear talks to resume by early November.