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Israel Pushed to Bring to Trial Those Involved in Bridge Tragedy

November 7, 1997
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

If Israel does not prosecute those responsible for the bridge collapse at the Maccabiah Games, the father of an Australian athlete injured in the tragedy has asked the Australian government to bar Israel from participating in the Sydney Olympics in the year 2000.

In a letter to the office of the Australian sports minister, Colin Elterman asked that Israel not be allowed to participate in the games if those responsible for the collapse are not brought to justice.

Elterman’s daughter, Sasha, a tennis player, was seriously hurt when the temporary bridge collapsed.

Two Australian athletes were immediately killed July 14 and hundreds of other participants at the games injured when a pedestrian bridge collapsed during the opening ceremony at the Ramat Gan stadium, plunging scores of people into the Yarkon River.

Two more Australians died weeks later as a result of complications that medical officials linked to contaminants in the river water.

A commission investigating the accident found the engineer and contractors who built the bridge at fault for poor planning and execution. It also criticized Maccabiah organizers for trying to cut costs and take a cheaper bid.

State Attorney Edna Arbel, who met this week with Australian Jewish leader Mark Liebler, said she intended to decide by the end of the month whether charges would be brought against any of those believed to be responsible for the collapse.

Liebler said that while the Australian Jewish community had not requested that Israel not be allowed to participate in the Sydney Olympics, there was a sense of frustration over what is perceived to be Israeli foot-dragging in handling the matter.

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