"21/02/2008 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak conveyed a message to Syria during his visit to Turkey earlier this month, stating that Israel might escalate its military battle against Hezbollah and Hamas, the London-based newspaper al-Hayat reported Thursday.
According to the report, Barak stressed that Jerusalem expected Damascus to take a different stance against Hezbollah, as a goodwill gesture for future settlement negotiations between the two countries.
The Israeli defense minister warned Syria to refrain from supporting Hezbollah should a conflict erupt between Israel and the Islamic resistance movement, if Damascus is interested in future negotiations with Israel.
Barak conveyed these messages through Turkish President Abdullah Gul days before Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah threatened Israel with an "open war" worldwide if it wanted that kind of wars, in response to the assassination of the organization's senior commander Imad Moghniyeh in a car explosion in Damascus.
According to the report, during his meetings in Ankara, Barak tried to learn of the Turkish response should Israel launch a wide-scale operation in the Gaza Strip. He also sought to found an international force in the Gaza Strip which would include Turkey, Qatar, Malaysia and Jordan, in order to guarantee the cessation of rocket attacks from that area and in order to supervise the border.
OLMERT, ASHKENAZI BEAT DRUMS OF WAR
Meanwhile, Israeli army Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi warned the army on Wednesday to be ready for a new conflagration in the region. "There are dangers to our survival on the horizon and great challenges to Israeli security. The IDF needs to ensure a rapid victory in any conflict and I cannot guarantee that we won't need to act in the near future," Ashkenazi said at a graduation ceremony for a ground forces officers training course at the Officer Training School near Mitzpe Ramon.
The Israeli army chief said the army's job was and remained to serve as "a safety net" for the continued existence and success of the State of Israel.
Also attending the ceremony was Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told the soldiers that the lessons of the Second Lebanon War had been internalized, and that Israel was now better prepared for any conflict.
"The lessons of the war are being implemented at all levels of command in the IDF: in the branches, corps, commands and the departments of the General Staff," Olmert said. "Unprecedented resources today allow the IDF to train more, prepare better for a time of trouble, and train commanders and fighters at all levels in the best possible manner and for all scenarios." "