If there was any consolation to be taken from the “Munich Massacre,” it would be that much of the world was outraged and finally understood the forces of evil facing Israel.
Istarted off as a joyous occasion. At the start of the 20th Olympic Games, the Jn Editorial of September 1, 1972, captured the excitement with a simple sentence: “The Jews were acclaimed in Munich. It referred to the cheering of Israeli athletes as they walked through the arena, but it was also a profound idea for Jews: “The 1972 Olympics are a refutation of the horrors of Nazi terror which had its image in Hitler’s presence at the 1936 Olympics.
The same issue also reported that American Jewish swimmer Mark Spitz had already won three of his seven gold medals. Spitz would be the most successful athlete at the 1972 Olympics.
The joy was not to last. On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists, affiliated with Black September, a militant wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat, climbed the fence and entered the Olympic residential area. Armed with cards and stolen keys, they went straight to where the Israeli athletes lived.
When the terrorists entered, Moshe Weinberg, the team’s wrestling coach, and Yosset Gutfreund, a wrestling referee, confronted them, but could not stop them. Weinberg was shot and wounded. Soon the Israeli athletes were hostages.
Already injured, Weinberg was killed in a subsequent clash when he attempted to snatch a weapon from a terrorist. Assisting Weinberg, while on crutches, weightlifter Yossaf Romano was also killed. One escaped but nine others remained hostage.
The terrorists demanded the release of 200 Palestinians held in Israeli jails and a plane for their escape. At night, thinking they had made a deal, the terrorists drove the hostages, bound together and blindfolded, to buses which took them to helicopters, which transported terrorists and hostages to an air base.
West German police were waiting for them. Inside the plane were police disguised as flight crew; others were posted outside. There was, however, a major problem: the police were not trained in the fight against terrorism. Legally, the better trained and armed units of the German army could not help the police. The rescue operation was a recipe for the resulting disaster.
Upon arrival, after checking the plane, the terrorists discovered the ruse. They started shooting and throwing grenades at the helicopters. Although the crews were able to escape, the hostages were trapped. In the process, 11 Israeli athletes, five terrorists and a police officer died.
Shortly after, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir launched “Operation Wrath of God” to punish Black September planners for crime. The Israelis were accused of revenge, but Zvi Zamir, director of Mossad, while noting that those who planned terrorism deserved to die, said: “No… We acted against those who thought they would continue to commit crimes. acts of terror… We were not dealing with the past; we focused on the future.
Despicable acts like this can’t really have any positive ramifications. But, if there was any consolation to be taken from this “Munich massacre,” it would be that much of the world was outraged and finally understood the forces of evil that Israel faced. In addition, Western governments have started to properly train counterterrorism forces.
A minute of silence was observed to honor the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes killed in 1972 during the opening ceremony of the current Olympic Games in Tokyo.
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