Munich Massacre Memorial Service [Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Today, we remember those eleven fallen Israelis of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team whose lives were cut short by merciless terrorists. Terrorists who thought that Jewish blood was cheap and that taking the life of any Israeli for any reason was fair game. They were wrong.

What Happened on September 5, 1972?

On September 5, 1972, at approximately 4:30 am in Munich, Germany, the lives of eleven Israeli Olympic team members and their families would change forever. At that time, with logistical assistance from German neo-Nazis, members of the Arab terrorist group called Black September entered the rooms of the Israeli Olympic team and kidnapped them. (The attackers were subsequently reported to be part of the anti-Israel terrorists from refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.) Before taking the remaining Israeli hostages to a plane, the terrorists tortured and killed 2 members of the Israeli Olympic team that fought valiantly against their attackers in an attempt to protect their brothers from the same fate that they would soon face.

After an unsuccessful attempt by German police to rescue the hostages, the terrorists gave a list of demands that were the release of 234 Arabs and non-Arabs jailed in Israel, along with two German insurgents held in German prisons, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, who were founders of the German Red Army Faction. Israel would not give into the negotiations – this was the Israeli policy at the time. Negotiations between the German officials on the scene and the terrorists ensued. German officials confirmed that 9 Israeli’s were alive, but also confirmed that they had been beaten by their captors and that one of them had been shot in the shoulder. After confirming that the Israelis were alive, the terrorists then demanded transportation to Cairo.

Authorities agreed to the demands of the terrorists and arranged for helicopters to transport the terrorists and the hostages to a nearby NATO airbase for subsequent transport to Egypt. It was there that the authorities attempted to thwart the terrorists and rescue the hostages. Due to another unsuccessful rescue attempt, the terrorists, after inspecting the plane that was to take them to Egypt and realizing that they were set up for a trap, rushed back to the helicopters. In the first hour of September 6th, the hostages, who were badly beaten and bound tried to loosen their bounds but could not escape. The first hostages to be killed were those that were shot at point blank by the terrorists. Afterwards, the rest of the hostages were incinerated by a hand grenade blast from a grenade thrown inside the cockpit of the helicopter by one of the terrorists.

The members of the Israeli Olympics team that were murdered on that fateful night were:
Moshe Weinberg
Yossef Romano
Ze’ev Friedman
David Berger
Yakov Springer
Eliezer Halfin
Yossef Gutfreund
Kehat Shorr
Mark Slavin
Andre Spitzer
Amitzur Shapira

May there names be for a blessing.

The Aftermath

An Israeli Mossad mission, which later became known as Operation Wrath of God, was sanctioned and the terrorists that were not killed in the immediate aftermath of the massacre were targeted for assassination. It is believed that two of the three surviving gunmen, Mohammed Safady and Adnan Al-Gashey, were killed by the Mossad in reprisal attacks. The third, Jamal Al-Gashey, was known to be alive as of 1999 and is not known to have been killed (yet) by the Mossad.

In 2005, the acclaimed producer Steven Spielberg, wrote and directed the film Munich. The drama, Munich is based on Operation Wrath of God, the Israeli government’s secret retaliation against the Palestine Liberation Organization after the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

May we know of only peace and progress in our holy homeland of Israel and may acts of terror like the one perpetrated against those brave Israeli Olympic team members in 1972 never happen again. Jewish blood is not and will never again be considered cheap.