Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, calling it "a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve the dignity of a response."
Netanyahu, who less than three hours earlier, presented the conference with a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month and challenged Zarif to recognize it.
"Here's a piece of that Iranian drone, or what's left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. 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.
In his own remarks, Zarif dismissed Netanyahu's challenge, saying Israel was trying "to create these cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they're facing."
"The entire speech was trying to evade the issue. What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled," he said of the February 10 downing of an Israeli F-16. Anti-aircraft fire downed the jet as it was returning from a bombing raid on Iran-backed positions in Syria.
"Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors," Zarif said, accusing Israel of "mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon."
"Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it's as if a disaster has happened," Zarif said.
The downed F-16 was one of at least eight Israeli planes despatched in response to the Iranian drone's incursion into its airspace earlier on that day. The jet was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile and crashed in northern Israel. Its pilot and navigator bailed out before the crash.
In Munich, Zarif also accused the United States of using the conference to "revive hysteria" against Iran, and denied that Tehran was seeking "hegemony" in the Middle East.