Iran issued a stark warning to Israel, threatening to raze Tel Aviv if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the "slightest unwise move" against it.

The uncompromising message came from the influential Mohsen Rezaie, Iran's expediency council secretary, an assembly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which supervises the government.

He said: "About Netanyahu's unwise words, I should say that if they carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground and will not give any opportunity to Netanyahu to flee."

The move heightens the already tense standoff between Israel and Iran, which has emerged as the leading Middle East opposition to Jerusalem.

Iran's comments come after a provocative speech by Israeli leader Netanyahu at the Munich Security Conference last week.

Netanyahu brandished what he claimed to be a part of an Iranian drone that the Israeli airforce had shot down on 10 February over the Jewish nation's air space.

He said he had "a message to the tyrants of Tehran: Do not test Israel's resolve. We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself."

Iran denies sending drones into Israeli air space. Israel responded with a fighter strike on what Jerusalem claims were the Iranian control systems for the craft in Syria, from where it said the drone was launched.

Iran helps prop up President Assad's government in Syria. The bitter seven-year war in Syria also involves Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US, and is constantly in danger of spilling over into a wider proxy war in the region.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran not to test his state’s “resolve” VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images