Israel threatens direct action against Iran
Benjamin Netanyahu’s heightened rhetoric comes a week after Israel and Iran clashed in Syria
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stepped up his war of words with Iran, insisting that his country will act directly against Tehran if necessary.
The threat comes after Israeli attacks on Iranian military targets in Syria last weekend.
Brandishing a charred fragment of what he claimed was a downed Iranian drone, Netanyahu told the Munich security conference: “Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck.”
“We will act if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies but against Iran itself,” he said, describing the country as “the greatest threat to our world”.
BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus said the theatricall flourish was “vintage Benjamin Netanyahu, from a Prime Minister embattled at home with potential corruption charges looming over his head”.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the presentation “a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response”.
Israel “has accused Tehran of seeking a permanent military foothold in Syria”, where Iranian-backed forces support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in civil war entering its eighth year, says Reuters.
There are also concerns within Israel about the situation in Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed Hezbollah is part of a coalition government.
The Guardian says that “as Iran’s military role expands in Syria and Yemen and Donald Trump pushes for a more confrontational approach toward Tehran, Israel is seeking wider support for efforts to contain its regional arch-enemy”.
Iran’s growing influence across the whole of the Middle East region has prompted Israel to align more closely with Sunni Arab states, which share worries about their Shi’ite rival.