The Home Front Hasn't Sung Yet

The treasury says the war has cost NIS 23 billion so far, including direct damage and compensation. But that is not the end of the story.

When the guns fall silent, the post mortem is likely to be protracted and painful. It will center on the question of defending the home front and the investment necessary to ensure better stamina in the face of future rounds of violence.

If there is anything this war has taught, it is that in the ballistic age - the home front expands frighteningly fast.

Before this second war in Lebanon, the army invested great efforts in preventing the expansion of the southern home front, limiting it to the Sderot area. The few Qassams that landed in Ashkelon were considered unusual events.

On the northern front, it rapidly became clear that Kiryat Shmona, Metulla and Nahariya were just the front line for rocket strikes: in no time, a third of Israel was under attack.

Everyone included in the Hezbollah rocket line will demand that the state, as part of its post mortem, invest in protection and the construction of shelters suitable for long-term stays. Towns in central Israel and the Sharon region will demand a similar investment, since the next rocket attack could come from the east, even from the West bank where the IDF has so far managed to prevent arming with missiles. This means that almost the entire country will demand investment in shelters. The price tag for that could reach billions of dollars.

These demands will confront Israeli society with a cruel dilemma: Invest the billions in defense against a war that might happen in the future, or invest in business, creating jobs and infrastructure that will improve the standard of living. It is hard to imagine the state finding budgets both to safeguard lives and to safeguard the standard of living.