Hizbullah leader: Cyprus will be target if it lets Israel use its territory in conflict

Cyprus president Nikos Christodoulides denies republic is embroiled in warfare in Gaza and Lebanon

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has warned Cyprus against allowing Israel to use its air bases in the event of a wider Middle Eastern conflict.

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has warned of a war “without rules or ceilings” in the event of a full-scale Israeli offensive against the Lebanese militia, as he threatened that Cyprus could become a target if it allowed Israel to use its territory in any conflict.

Cyprus and Israel have a bilateral defence co-operation agreement which has seen the countries conduct joint exercises.

“Opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to target Lebanon would mean that the Cypriot Government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war,” the Hizbullah chief said.

Israel and Hizbullah have held back from a full-scale war, but pressure is mountingOpens in new window ]

But Cyprus president Nikos Christodoulides denied the republic is embroiled in  warfare in Gaza and Lebanon. “Cyprus remains uninvolved in any military conflicts and positions itself as part of the solution.”


He pointed out that Cyprus maintains a maritime corridor for shipping humanitarian aid to Gaza and said Nicosia intends to raise the threat with Beirut and Tehran, which supports Hizbullah.

“Our humanitarian corridor is a testament to our commitment to peace and stability,” he told reporters. “Such statements are not pleasant, but they do not reflect reality.”

Nasrallah’s statement followed a declaration by Israel’s military command that preparations are complete for a full-scale war on Lebanon.

Stepping up pressure on Hizbullah for a ceasefire, US envoy Amos Hochstein reportedly told Beirut the Biden administration would back an Israeli offensive against Lebanon after five weeks if daily exchanges between Hizbullah and Israel continue.

Many Cypriots dismissed Nasrallah’s threat. “I’m not concerned,” teacher Xanthi Kolitsis said. “There will be a few who are but I’m certain most people feel the same as I do.”

Businessman Sophocles Markides also insisted he was not worried.  “The people here have always been with the Palestinians. They [Hizbullah] have made a mistake.  We cannot control what the British bases do.”

As part of the price of independence in 1960, Cyprus granted Britain 256 square kilometres of the island’s territory for sovereign military bases.

After Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7th, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported a surge of US military personnel at the bases, deliveries of arms from Nato facilities in Europe, and a spike in flights from Britain’s Akrotiri in Cyprus airbase to Israel.

Despite Britain’s bases, independent Cyprus has adopted a non-aligned policy, developed close ties with Arab nations  and supported the Palestinians.

Since the end of the Cold War, Cyprus has signed strategic cooperation pacts with Israel and the US, although Cypriots accuse Washington of colluding with Turkey’s division of the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Cyprus has conducted joint naval exercises with the US and Israel and allowed Israeli commandos to stage exercises in mountain villages allegedly in preparation for conflict in Lebanon.

Israel’s spyware firms briefly tested equipment in Cyprus until a public row caused them to cease. Israeli tourism and real estate investment have also been promoted heavily in the republic, a European Union member.

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen contributes news from and analysis of the Middle East to The Irish Times