The World: At the Gate of Tears

To provide the oil that is vital to Israel's powerful military machine, a stream of tankers this year will carry more than 35 million tons from Persian Gulf fields up the Red Sea to the port of Eilat. The southern part of this supply line has never been really safe, however. That was demonstrated in 1971, when a small group of fedayeen armed with bazookas attacked the Israel-bound Liberian tanker Coral Sea as it passed through the ten-mile-wide strait of Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Tears). The attack prompted an audacious —and secret—Israeli countermove.

TIME has learned that Israel has sent elite...

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