Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, The suspect was reportedly under surveillance at the time of his arrest

Israel has accused Iran of plotting to kill Israelis in Cyprus after police there arrested a man suspected of being hired to carry out the attacks.

The Israeli prime minister's office said "an act of terror… was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli businesspeople" living on the island.

His office denied media reports that the target was Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi.

Iran – Israel's arch-foe – has denied Israel's claims.

"This regime is always making such a baseless allegation against the Islamic Republic of Iran," the Iranian embassy in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, said in a statement to Reuters news agency.

The suspect – said to be a 38-year-old Azeri using a Russian passport – was arrested a week ago in Nicosia after crossing from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, according to local media.

Reports say he had arrived from Russia about three weeks ago and was under police surveillance. Cypriot media say he had a gun with a silencer in his car when he was arrested, though police have not confirmed details of the case.

There are conflicting reports as to who might have been a target. Some reports in Israeli and Cypriot media say Mr Sagi was one of a number of Israeli businesspeople on a hit list.

Both the Israeli prime minister's office and Mr Sagi's company, the Sagi Group, denied the tycoon was known to be a would-be victim.

"This is a foiled Iranian terrorist incident," the company said in a statement. "The target for the assassination is not Teddy Sagi but Israelis in Cyprus. Unfortunately, it is so easy to publish incorrect information and damage a person's name."

Other Israeli media reports suggest the plot might be linked to business disputes involving Mr Sagi, whose ventures include online gambling and real estate.

Israel has previously accused Iran or its ally Hezbollah of carrying out, or planning to carry out, attacks on Israelis abroad. In 2012 Cyprus convicted a Hezbollah member of plotting to attack Israelis there. That same year, Bulgaria and Israel accused Hezbollah of carrying out a suicide bombing there which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian.

Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement in the incidents.