JERUSALEM (Jul. 1)
A team of 30 Israel Bond leaders from 24 communities overseas who came to Israel to study the impact of the war in Lebanon on Israel’s economy, concluded their 42-hour stay by renewing their pledge to Premier Menachem Begin today to raise an additional $100 million between now and September so that Israel’s development will not suffer.
“We know Israel can be secure only if she is economically strong.” said Sam Rothberg, general chairman of the Israel Bond Organization, who headed the delegation. “We spent the first day of our visit visiting Israel army camps in Lebanon where we were briefed by the Deputy Chief of the Israel General Staff, and several brigadier generals.” “What amazed us,” he said, “was the repeated expression at enthusiasm by Lebanese we met at having the Israel Defense Forces clear out both the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Syrians.
“We heard this at Beaufort Castle. We heard it in the streets of Damour in Lebanon. We have difficulty reconciling much of what we have been seeing on U.S. television with the reality of what the Lebanese themselves are saying,” Rothberg said.
The Israel Bond drive presented Begin with a “down payment” of $35 million in New York on June 18. “We are now returning to our communities to raise the balance of an additional $100 million which we feel is the minimum needed to maintain Israel’s necessary rate of economic development,” said Melvin Ross, a member of the delegation from Boston.
The delegates laid wreaths at the tombs of Israel’s soldiers recently fallen in the Lebanese war, officially designated “Operation Peace for Galilee,” Prior to leaving Israel, they visited several injured soldiers at a Jerusalem hospital.
At a briefing session with Finance Minister Yoram Aridor, the delegation was told that a major part of the war’s economic burden was the economic dislocation of the civilian economy resulting from mobilization of the reservist army. Aridor said both the direct and indirect economic costs of the war will amount to billions of dollars. He cited the price of one air-to-ground missile — $400,000.
Aridor estimated that the war will cost Israel 10-15 percent of its 1982 gress national product or between $2-3 billion.