Brandishing a piece of a downed Iranian drone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran Sunday not to test Israel’s resolve.
Tensions have been running high after an incursion by an unmanned aerial vehicle of Iranian origin led to strikes on Iranian positions in Syria. Israel “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself,” the prime minister said at the Munich Security Conference, which was attended by Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.
“Here is a piece of that Iranian drone, or what is left of it after we shot it down,” Netanyahu told the conference, holding a piece of the destroyed drone high above his head. “I brought it here so you can see it for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do your recognize this? You should. It’s yours. You can take back a message to the tyrants of Tehran. Do not test Israel’s resolve.”
Mr. Zarif: do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours. Don’t test Israel’s resolve. pic.twitter.com/8e6eNV27w3
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 18, 2018
The prime minister, the first Israeli prime minister to address the conference, warned that Israel will “act without hesitation to defend itself.” He also addressed Iran’s nuclear interests, arguing that Iran “should be stopped and slammed with the most crippling sanctions.”
A series of unusual events nearly brought Iran and Israel into direct conflict last weekend. When a drone entered Israeli airspace, the Israeli military shot down the aircraft and bombed the launch site in Syria, where Iranian forces are active. As the fighter jets were returning home, one of the Israeli F-16s was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. The fighter went down in Israel, and the pilot was able to eject safely.
In response, Israel carried out a massive retaliation operation, during which it bombed a dozen Syrian and Iranian military facilities in Syria. The incident risked escalating an already devastating regional conflict.
Iran, which Netanyahu claims “lies with eloquence,” denies any wrongdoing. Zarif accused the Israeli prime minister of staging a “cartoonish circus.”
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