Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a warning to Iran over the actions of its “proxies” in Syria.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Mr Netanyahu held up what he said was a piece from an Iranian drone shot down in Israeli airspace.
In a comment directed at Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who he described as a “smooth-talking mouthpiece”, Mr Netanyahu held the piece aloft and said: “Mr Zarif, do you recognise this?
“You should – it’s yours.
“You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran: do not test Israel’s resolve.”
Mr Netanyahu said: “No doubt Mr Zarif will brazenly deny Iran’s involvement in Syria.
“He lies with eloquence.”
Mr Netanyahu spoke out against an international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it has “unleashed a dangerous Iranian tiger in our region and beyond”.
Israel said it shot down the drone on 10 February after it entered the country from Syria.
At the time, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said: “The allegations regarding surveillance by an Iranian drone are too ridiculous for words.”
But Israel responded with a raid on what it said was the craft’s Syria-based Iranian control system.
During that raid, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down.
Israel has repeatedly warned against the presence of Iranian forces in neighbouring Syria and it has carried out dozens of air strikes on the Syrian armed forces and their allies since the civil war started.
Along with Russia, Iran is the main military backer of the Damascus government and Israel fears Tehran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria.
Mr Netanyahu said on Sunday: “Through its proxies — Shiite militias in Iraq, the Huthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza — Iran is devouring huge swathes of the Middle East.
“Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.”
“We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”
A few hours later, Mr Zarif also spoke to the Munich conference and dismissed the words of his Israeli counterpart.
He said: “You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning which does not even deserve the dignity of a response.
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbours,” he told the conference, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbours and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon”.
Mr Zarif said the “so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled”, saying the country was creating the “cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they’re facing”.