JERUSALEM (Oct. 16)
Premier Golda Meir announced to the Knesset today that she has asked four Israeli security officials to resign as a result of the recommendations of the Koppel Committee which was set up last month to investigate security aspects–Israeli and German–of the Munich tragedy where 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists on Sept. 5.
Mrs. Meir also sharply criticized West German authorities for inadequate security measures at the Olympic Village. She implied in her speech to the Knesset on the opening day of its winter session that one of the faults of Israeli security at Munich was a failure to press the Germans hard enough to alter their concepts of security which the Premier said were faulty.
A three-hour debates followed Mrs. Meir’s speech during which the government was accused of concealing the contents of the Koppel report from the appropriate Knesset committee. (See separate story.) The Koppel Committee, appointed by Mrs. Meir, was headed by former Police Chief Pinhas Koppel. The two other Committee members were Avigdor Bartel, general director of the Haifa refineries, who has previously served on various investigating committees including labor relations, and Moshe Kashti, general director of Zim shipping lines and former general director of the Defense Ministry.
GERMANS OPPOSED ARMED GUARDS
Mrs. Meir said that the German concept of security, as described in the Bonn government’s own report on the Munich tragedy, had ruled out the posting of armed guards inside the Olympic Village. Only the night watchmen wore pistols and the Germans relied on checks at the gate which were “meaningless in practice,” Mrs. Meir said.
She also criticized the way the Germans conducted their abortive rescue operation at a military airport near Munich where the terrorists had taken their hostages. However, she said, the “operational failure did not detract from Israel’s appreciation of the German decision not to surrender to terrorist violence.”
Mrs. Meir said, “I learn that even after the murders, when the German authorities examined once more the security arrangements, they continued to oppose such measures as the stationing of armed guards in or around the Israeli pavilion, or the erection of watch towers around the village perimeter manned by armed guards.”
NO GROUNDS FOR CRIMINAL CHARGES
Mrs. Meir said that the activities of Israeli security services abroad must obviously be limited to persuading the host government to take adequate measures and to guarding themselves when the host government permits this. “I believe that a decision on more intensive and more comprehensive security arrangements, agreed upon with the German authorities, would have made it more difficult for the assailants to achieve their objective,” she said. Mrs. Meir added that it was impossible to say how the Germans would have reacted had the Israeli authorities applied stronger pressure on them to chance their conception of security.
Mrs. Meir said she had turned over the Koppel report to the State’s Attorney to see if there were any grounds for criminal charges. He said there were none, but in light of the Koppel findings, Mrs. Meir said, she decided with unanimous approval of the Cabinet, to ask four security officials to resign.
She said two were “senior” officials, one a “responsible” official and one a security man working with the Ministry of Education which was responsible for the Israeli Olympic team. She did not identify any of the security men by name.
Mrs. Meir stressed that personal responsibility for the security services has always rested with the Prime Minister and she would keep it that way. Noting that the security services have been attacked in the press lately, she remarked that she was obviously unable to reveal details of their successful exploits beyond saying that they had a large role in combatting terrorism in Israel, in the administered territories and abroad, and successfully prevented many planned attacks.
Mrs. Meir referred briefly to the Soviet visa tax. She said reports that it was about to be repealed were groundless and that the struggle must be continued by world Jewry, friendly governments and enlightened opinion.