Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, used his address at an international security conference on Sunday to display characteristic bravado and issue a direct warning salvo to Iran. While holding a piece of fuselage from an Iranian drone shot down by Israel, Netanyahr sounded grim. Are we on the verge of war?
The Prime Minister spoke directly to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also attending the conference in Germany.
“Mr. Zarif, do you recognize 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,” Netanyahu said, according to the Times of Israel. He added, “Through his proxies – Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza – Iran is devouring huge swaths 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.”
The downing of the Iranian drone by the Israeli Air Force on February 10 was the first direct confrontation between Israel and Iran in the former’s territory. Since the start of the civil war in neighboring Syria, Israel has regularly intervened to check the expansion of Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, which has backed the Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian regime in Damascus.
Netanyahu compared Iran’s expansionism to European appeasement of the Nazis during World War Two. “Concessions to Hitler only emboldened the Nazis. Well-intentioned leaders only made war more difficult and costly. Iran looks to destroy Israel and is developing ballistic missiles that can also reach Europe and the U.S. Once nuclear-armed, Iran will be unchecked,” Natanyahu added.
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Callum Paton writes for Newsweek online.