Middle East: Counting the Costs

Israel assesses the damage of the fighting—and the cease-fire

"We shall not hold our fire indefinitely. If the terrorists keep on shooting, we shall not stand idly by." So declared Prime Minister Menachem Begin as he tried to reassure a worried Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Knesset that Israel's security had not been unduly compromised by the ceasefire with the Palestinians. Begin's gruff tone—and the contentious nature of the meeting—reflected Israel's mood last week as it counted the costs, military and political, of the 14 days of fighting and the uneasy peace that followed.

The cease-fire was holding—barely—although there...

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