I almost missed the pun ... I assure you, it's unintended.
The LA Times has a mini-symposium on the legality and morality of the Dubai assassination of a top Hamas leader (presumed, but not proven, to be done by Israel). It's very interesting reading.
With a bit of critical distance from my initial reaction, I think my view on the matter is changing slightly. What I wrote then, and what I still believe, is that within the facial framework by which Israel is being evaluated upon, this assassination was an unqualified success: one terrorist eliminated, no civilian casualties, no civilian hardship. It's also not particularly scalable, which is why it's unreasonable to base an entire security apparatus around it. But more importantly, it's somewhat annoying to see folks who last year were holding Israel to unreasonable standards regarding the degree of care it had to take regarding civilian casualties being equally aggrieved by this operation. It really feeds into my broader intuition that -- no matter what they protest -- the real objection is Israel doing anything to defend itself at all.
That being said, I do think there are perfectly legitimate concerns about undertaking these operations. The sovereignty violation bothers me. The passport theft bothers me even more. And that doesn't get into the diplomatic hellstorm that develops when you forge passports from your nominal allies. Bradley Burston's frustration is not unwarranted.
What I think is really going on here is the continued dearth of sophisticated visions regarding what a progressive, human rights oriented law of war should look like in the era of terrorism and counter-insurgency. Instead, we have visceral reactions tinted by our pre-conceptualizations of what (and who) constitutes good and evil, and then build out principles to match. And lo and behold, such an approach doesn't create optimal incentives. But when we keep changing the rules in midgame, it can't come as a surprise when people begin to suggest there are no rules at all. And that, unsurprisingly, is even worse.