Israel plans to deploy no less than 20,000 'commandos' in Greek Cyprus in order to protect its energy projects in the region, the Anatolian News Agency reported Sunday.
The report, which appears somewhat doubtful to observers familiar with the size of Israel's military, adds that at least 30,000 Israeli workers and their families will move to Limassol to work on planned joint Israeli-Cypriot projects.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Cypriot Prime Minister Dimitris Christofias on February 16 to discuss the countries’ joint interests.
The Anatolian News Agency claims that although the content of the meeting remains confidential, it has learned new details about the meeting, quoting a senior Cypriot source who claims that Christofias president asked Netanyahu to persuade Israeli businessmen to suspend investment in the Turkish-controlled part of the island.
Only Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Netanyahu also reportedly offered to undertake all expenses needed to extract natural gas found in the Mediterranean. In exchange for his offer, the prime minister asked that all of the 10,000 personnel that would work at the plant be brought in from Israel with their families, increasing the number of Israeli citizens in the area to nearly 30,000.
To meet the security arrangements created by such a large number of Israelis, Netanyahu proposed that 20,000 soldiers would protect the civilians and energy facilities. "The Israelis are coming, and they are here to stay," the Anatolian News Agency quoted the official as saying.