A double tragedy for Israel

Two tragedies - one personal and one national - raised a number of political questions here, and cast a pall of sadness over the country, Monitor correspondent Trudy Rubin reports.

The tragedies are the passing of Aliza Begin, wife of Prime Minister Menachem Begin; and the collapse of Israeli military government headquarters in Tyre in southern Lebanon. The collapse is the biggest single disaster in Israeli military history.

As Mr. Begin started home, cutting short his US tour and a scheduled meeting with President Reagan, there was speculation on his political future. A Begin spokesman said he believed Begin would continue at his post. The comment was no doubt prompted by Begin's remarks last month that his wife's well-being would figure importantly in his political future.

Mrs. Begin was a link to Mr. Begin's political past. Their marriage spanned escape ahead of the Nazis from their native Poland, Begin's wartime imprisonment in Soviet Russia, emigration to Palestine, her husband's leadership of an underground group against the British, and years of heading the political opposition.

The nation will observe a day of mourning on Nov. 15 for the Tyre disaster. The explosion left 75 Israelis and 14 Lebanese and Palestinians dead, and raised questions in the media and among opposition politicians about the continuing Israeli military presence in southern Lebanon.

The disaster's repercussions will become clearer once the cause is known. One Cabinet minister said sabotage had been ruled out; he said the cause appears to have been an accident. The head of a commission investigating the blast, Res. Gen. Meir Zorea, told the Israeli Cabinet he could not say for certain that sabotage was not the cause until the investigation was completed (within a week).

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