Ed: 34: April/2009
Furthermore, it seems that the Israeli Home Front Command's alarm system, together with public compliance, prevented the loss of many lives. For example, in two cases of direct Grad hits on multi-story buildings in Ashdod, residents only suffered from anxiety and minor injuries, since most successfully reached safe cover beforehand.
In terms of the legal argument, the Geneva Conventions are not a suicide pact. They do set forth the fundamental ideal that both sides of a conflict should distinguish both their own and enemy combatants from civilians, but are also very clear that when civilian facilities are used for military purposes they become legitimate military targets.
By joining the coalition, Barak reinforces the negative view most Israelis have of his personal qualities, and might jeopardise Labor's future. But as legitimate as it is to question Barak's motives, a coalition with Labor as an active member is better for the country.
Fears of impending disaster are hard to sustain, however, if you actually spend some time in Afghanistan, as we did recently at the invitation of General David Petraeus, chief of US Central Command. We spent eight days travelling from the snow-capped peaks of Kunar province near the border with Pakistan in the east to the wind-blown deserts of Farah province in the west near the border with Iran.