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Israel-Germany Diplomatic Crisis Worsens

Israel-Germany Diplomatic Crisis Worsens

Saturday, 13 August, 2022 - 09:45
Israeli President Isaac Herzog (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The diplomatic crisis between Israel and Germany has worsened in the wake of Berlin government’s rejection to pay huge additional compensation to the families of the athletes killed during an attack at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Families of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed in a Palestinian attack at the Munich Olympics said they will boycott a memorial ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the attack due to a dispute with the German government over compensation.

Diplomatic sources in Tel Aviv said Steffen Seibert, Germany’s new ambassador to Israel, is making last-minute efforts to settle differences, but no progress has been made so far in this regard.

Seibert, the long-time spokesman of former chancellor Angela Merkel, tried to create a positive atmosphere by holding a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday to declare solidarity with Israel against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's rockets and Hamas' detention of two Israeli soldiers.

However, Ankie Spitzer, spokesperson for the families, requested “a public apology” from German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for the country's “mistakes” and “mishandling” during the hostage crisis.

The families of those killed also request Germany to “open all the archives about the terror attack” and offer “just compensation” to them.

While Germany has apologized for mishandling the response to the attack and opened previously sealed archives, relatives of the victims said the amount of compensation offered by the government so far is “an insult.”

The German government said Friday it regrets plans by families of the killed Israeli to boycott the ceremony next month and said it was prepared to continue talks on further compensation.

On Sept. 5, 1972, during the 20th Olympic Games, eight gunmen from the Palestinian Liberation Organization splinter group “Black September” raided the Israeli team’s quarters in the Olympic village in Munich, Germany.

They killed an Israeli weightlifter and a wrestling coach almost immediately, took nine others hostage and demanded the release of 236 prisoners held in Israel.

Later at Fuerstenfeldbruck military airfield near Munich, from where the gunmen were hoping to leave Germany, police opened fire and a gunfight erupted.

All nine hostages were killed, and five of the gunmen and a policeman also died.

Immediately after the massacre, Germany made payments to the relatives of the victims amounting to about 4.19 million marks (about two million euros), and in 2002, the surviving relatives received another three million euros.

German media report that the government is prepared to double that amount, while relatives are seeking more compensation.

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