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Israel loans $500,000 to help victims of Maccabiah tragedy

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SYDNEY, Aug. 27 (JTA) — Maccabi Australia has welcomed a loan of $500,000 that the Israeli government advanced to help the victims of the bridge collapse at last month’s Maccabiah Games in Israel. The loan, which had been requested by Maccabi Australia and several Australian Jewish groups, was designed only to provide temporary help, according to the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The beneficiaries of the loan are expected to return the monies once insurance companies pay out compensation claims, the Prime Minister’s Office said. Tom Goldman, president of Maccabi Australia, told more than 400 Maccabi team members and friends over the weekend that the loan had been matched by the Maccabi World Union. Goldman said he hoped that the families suffering pain and loss would not also suffer financially duress. Two Australian athletes were immediately killed — and dozens of other participants at the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah Games were injured — when a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Ramat Gan stadium on July 14, plunging scores of people into the Yarkon River below. Two more Australians died weeks later as a result of complications that medical officials linked to contaminants in the river water. An additional 10 Australian athletes were in serious condition, reportedly as a result of ingesting water from the Yarkon, sparking accusations among some Australian Jews that Israeli officials were taking too long to issue the results of their tests of river water samples. Goldman has commissioned independent tests on samples he brought back from Israel.

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