A new coded message has entered the chilly lexicon of Israeli anxiety. "Heavy fighting is taking place in Lebanon," intones the news reader. Hundreds of mothers and fathers with soldier sons serving across the northern border know immediately what that means. There are casualties, but the families have not yet been notified.
Since the beginning of this year, 103 Israeli soldiers have died in, or on their way to, war in Lebanon. Twelve lost their lives in a botched marine commando raid last week. The total death toll since the 1982 "Peace for Galilee" invasion nowstands at about 1,200, and since the pullback to the South Lebanese security zone in 1985, some 500 soldiers have died.