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Germans Claim Israel Nixed Deal to Free Munich Hostages

July 17, 1996
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

German Television has reported that then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir rejected a proposal for the release of Israeli athletes taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Eleven Israeli athletes were murdered during the Munich Games after Palestinians from the Black September group raided their rooms and took them hostage.

Two athletes were shot by members of the group, and nine others were killed in the exchange of fire between the terrorists and German forces during a failed rescue attempt.

Israeli media Tuesday cited the television report, which said that the German interior minister at the time had reached an agreement with the government of Egypt and the captors that the terrorists and hostages would be flown to Egypt.

From there, the Israeli athletes were to be allowed to return home, and the terrorists would be released and not face any punishment.

According to the report, then-German Chancellor Willy Brandt ordered the rescue attempt only after Meir rejected any compromise proposal.

Among the people interviewed in the report was the sole Palestinian gunman who was not killed in the exchange with German forces.

Meanwhile, Zvi Zamir, who at the time headed the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, rejected the report’s assertion. Zamir was also sharply critical of the German response to the hostage-taking, saying that their primary interest at the time “had been to make sure the Olympic Games continue as usual.”

Zamir said that because of a German law barring the use of federal German security forces in Bavaria, border police officers had been assigned to carry out the rescue attempt despite their lack of adequate training.

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