By Samuel Burke, CNN
Syria may call Israel’s airstrikes near Damascus this weekend a "declaration of war," but if you ask Israeli officials, it's all overblown.
"There are no winds of war," Israeli commander Yair Golan told reporters while out on a jog.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu isn't even in Israel – he’s in Beijing – adding to the impression that all is in hand.
Indeed, Israel is bending over backward to convince Syria that it was simply going after Hezbollah-bound arms from Iran, and that its airstrikes were not to support the rebels.
Still, dozens of Syrian soldiers were killed, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing medical sources.
“Nobody in Israel wants another war with Syria – this is not the intention,” the former head of Israel’s internal security service, Ami Ayalon, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. Israel, he said, simply felt it had no alternative.
“We cannot see a creation of situation in which irrational or not responsible organizations will possess these kind of weapons,” he said – be it Hezbollah or “other extremists” within the Syrian opposition.
“This is our red line. We are sending a message,” he said of chemical weapons use.
It’s not yet clear how red the Obama administration’s red line must be before it gets involved in the Syrian conflict. Ayalon said that sometimes the Israeli government is in a position of not only explaining their own red lines to the Israeli people, but also to Americans.
“We are living in the Middle East – Americans are living in America. So it is clear that our red lines are different from American red lines,” Ayalon said. “We do not hide our red lines.”
Peace with the Palestinians
Ayalon has founded a non-partisan political group that seeks to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is believes that a new approach is need to solve the decades-long standoff.
“One thing I can assure: It will not be business as usual,” he told Amanpour about the short-term future of negotiations. “Even if the American administration gives up on the idea of direct talks – or even if we Israelis try to create a virtual reality in which Palestinians don’t exist.”
Israel cannot afford to continue down the same path it’s been going down, he said, because he believes the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has become a source of hatred and instability in the entire Arab world.
He believes that Americas should not push for direct negations, but rather Israel must show independent progress in order for the Palestinians that they should come to the table to negotiate.