It is easy, but wrong, to forget that in Israel there are many opponents of the kind of governments that the country usually gets after the necessary coalition building has taken place. There are also newspapers which regularly hold ministers to account for their policies. This week we have seen another part of the opposition in action and backed by the country's Supreme Court. Human rights groups petitioned the Court against the government's announced intention to cut off essential electricity and other supplies to Gaza as a counter to the rockets which Palestinians are firing into Israel (with little effect) from Gaza. The judges told the government that it had five days in which to answer the case made by the petitioners. The Attorney General's knee-jerk reaction was to say that instead of cutting off the power Israel would send forces into Gaza to arrest suspected terrorists.

Israel's proposed starving-out tactics are almost certainly illegal in international law and they are also misjudged if the assumption is that the Palestinians will give into them. An accusation frequently made against Israel is that its reaction to Palestinian resistance tends to be disproportionate; the idea of cutting essential electricity supplies to Gaza, with all the hardship it will cause, seems to be another instance of the tendency.But perhaps this time their own citizens will save the government from such a mistake.


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