Cyprus probes Lebanese' ties to Hezbollah, aids Israel, US, report

Nicosia government prepares list of Iranians, Lebanese and Syrian nationals after Hezbollah leader threatens island along with UK, US and Israeli interests; threats against a members state is a threat against EU, Brussels says 

Cyprus security authorities have been aiding Israel and the U.S. in surveilling Lebanese nationals on the Island, who have ties to Hezbollah, Saudi television said on Thursday.
According to the report on Al-Hadat, those found to have ties to the Iran-backed group would be dealt with as affiliated with terrorism. Sources told the channel that lists of Lebanese, Iranians and Syrians were being prepared following threats made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah against British, American Israeli and Cypriot interests.
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חסן נסראללה
חסן נסראללה
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech
(Photo: Wael Hamzeh / EPA)
On Wednesday, in his speech, Nasrallah warned Cyprus against assisting Israel and the United States in the current war in Gaza and on Israel's northern border.
"The Cypriot government must be warned that opening Cypriot airports and bases for the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon means that the Cypriot government has become part of the war and the resistance (Hezbollah) will deal with it as part of the war," Nasrallah said.
Cyprus is not known to have offered any land or base facilities to the Israeli military, but has in the past allowed Israel to use its vast airspace - its flight information region (FIR) - to occasionally conduct air drills, but never during the war.
Cyprus reacted with disbelief on Thursday to warnings that the island could be dragged into conflict if tensions with Israel blew up into a fully-fledged war.
The European Union (EU) member state closest to the Middle East, Cyprus was caught off guard by Nasrallah's warning that it could be a target. "The Republic of Cyprus is in no way involved in war conflict," Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said, describing Nasrallah's comments as "not pleasant".
The EU also weighed in. "Any threats against our member state are threats against the EU," a spokesperson said.
Cyprus has always viewed itself as above the politics of its neighbors and offered sanctuary to tens of thousands of Lebanese fleeing civil war in the 1970s and 80s.
It has lobbied its EU partners to offer Lebanon financial assistance, and recently set up a maritime corridor to dispatch humanitarian aid to famine-threatened Palestinians in Gaza.
"Cyprus is a credible enabler of stability, and an acknowledged regional hub for humanitarian operations, based on excellent relations with all the countries in the region," said government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis.
But it also comes against the backdrop of improved ties with Israel, and the more visible involvement of British sovereign bases on the island in military operations in Syria and more recently, Yemen. The Israeli air force is also known to conduct exercises in Cyprus's airspace, and in recent years the two countries have conducted joint military drills.
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ניקוס כריסטודולידיס
ניקוס כריסטודולידיס
Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides
(Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)
Cypriot Justice Minister Marios Hartsiotis said his office updates efforts to thwart terror attacks on a daily basis. He said Nasrallah's threats would prompt relevant action.
Cyprus closed its embassy in Beirut for the day, however, the government in Nicosia said that the move was scheduled in advance for administrative reasons and the embassy would return to normal operational hours as of Friday.
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