Officials from Cyprus and Israel have signed an agreement allowing Cyprus to buy Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system, according to Athens-based political and financial daily Kathimerini.
“Kathimerini is in a position to know that the decision has already been implemented and the Israeli side has already dotted the signatures,” the news outlet said on Friday. Israel’s Ministry of Defense did not comment.
According to a Kathimerini news report on Monday, the deal for the Iron Dome equipment does not include the full Iron Dome battery.
“Sources within Kathimerini Cyprus … have confirmed that the equipment signed last week to be bought from Israel would not be the full Iron Dome package,” the article said. According to the unnamed sources, “the purchase signed last week would include an anti-drone defense apparatus that could also work within Cyprus’ Russian-made Tor-M1 and Buk-M1 air defense systems.”
In June, Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement permitting Israel to sell the island equipment to the Cypriot military.
“The defense cooperation between Cyprus and Israel continues to grow and extend,” Cypriot Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides said at the time. “We are proud that this cooperation is in tandem with our excellent bilateral relations and reflects how neighboring countries should work for promoting peace and stability.”
“The Republic of Cyprus and the State of Israel maintain identical views and positions on the security of the Eastern Mediterranean based on international law,” Petrides said. “The relations between our two countries extend beyond common interests and we shall work to further strengthen, expand and deepen our defense cooperation. We are delighted to have established a long-term, strategic partnership with the State of Israel in defense. It is mutually beneficial cooperation that fosters regional stability, security and prosperity.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz has spoken to his Cypriot counterpart numerous times in recent months. In July, he met with Petrides on the sidelines of the Annual Economist Government Roundtable held in Greece; there, the two “covered challenges of mutual interest in the [Eastern Mediterranean] and areas of cooperation that are critical for the security of our citizens and for peace and stability in the region.”
At the beginning of August, Gantz hosted Petrides at Israel’s Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“The great bond between Israel and Cyprus is based on shared values and interests, and a common vision for a peaceful region,” Gantz said. “This translates to many areas of defense cooperation, including strategic dialogue, industrial projects and military activities. From personal meetings between us, to the excellent military exercise held in Cyprus in June, and the working groups held by our policy leaders – defense cooperation strengthens the readiness of each country to face developing challenges.”
The Israel Defense Forces and the Cypriot military have conducted joint military drills, as well. In May, Cyprus hosted a joint drill between the Cypriot National Guard and the IDF, simulating a war against Hezbollah. At the time, Gantz said the drills in Cyprus were one of the “largest and most expansive” military training exercises done by the IDF in recent years. He also said that the drill “illustrates the strength of the strategic alliance” between the two nations.
The decision by Cyprus to acquire the Iron Dome reportedly is linked to perceived Turkish threats against Cyprus. Following the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974, the Mediterranean island has been divided tensely between Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking regions, marked by suspicions and feelings of racism, according to a Greek-speaking resident of the Troodos Mountains in western Cyprus.
The international community has not recognized the Turkish occupation or claims to northern Cyprus.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.