Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday showed off an Iranian drone shot down by Israel, three months after the UAV’s incursion sparked massive Israeli airstrikes in Syria and the downing of an Israeli F-16.
Netanyahu showed the remains of the drone to Vice News owner Shane Smith, displaying the full aircraft — or what is left of it — for the first time since it was shot down on February 10, in a clip released by the news outlet ahead of the interview’s broadcast on HBO later Wednesday.
Netanyahu had previously used a wing from the drone as a prop during a speech to the Munich Security Conference in February.
Israel claimed the drone was armed.
The Iranian drone, which entered northern Israel from Syria near the Jordan border, was shot down by an Israeli attack helicopter. In response to the drone incursion, Israeli jets attacked the mobile command center in Syria from which it was operated, the army said.
During the reprisal raid, one of the eight Israeli F-16 fighter jets that took part in the operation was apparently hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile and crashed. The Israeli Air Force then conducted a second round of airstrikes, destroying between a third and a half of Syria’s air defenses, according to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Netanyahu held up the part of the drone in February and addressed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who was also in attendance at the Munich conference.
“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!” he said.
Zarif responded to Netanyahu’s prop by calling it a “cartoonish circus” that did “not warrant a response.”
Earlier this month Iranian forces fired some 20 rockets at northern Israeli military bases from southern Syria. The IDF said it suffered no casualties, either on the ground or in the air, and that no rockets fired from Syria made impact in Israeli territory. Four were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, and the other 16 fell short.
In response the IDF hit over 50 targets in Syria, including Iranian intelligence sites, logistic centers, weapons depots, and military bases operated by the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force.