Today in World History: September 5th

The Munich Massacre, in which terrorists kidnapped and held hostage eleven Israeli competitors at the Olympic Games, happened on this day in 1972. A terrorist group from Palestine, Black September sought to take revenge on the Israeli government, which expelled Palestinians from their homes in the newly founded Israel. Eight terrorists sneaked into the Athlete’s village, taking nine prisoners and by the end of the crisis killing twelve people. The German police and Olympic Committee were unprepared for such an attack, and as such, failed to protect the Israeli athletes, as was requested due to fears of an attack such as the one that followed. The terrorists attempted to negotiate with the German and Israeli governments for the release of 284 prisoners between the two, along with safe passage out of West Germany. The German government did plan an assault on the terrorists in the Athletes’ Village, but camera crews on the scene helped to alert the terrorists of an imminent attack. Despite their being ready, the terrorists were overcome by the German police, and five of them were killed, while the other three were captured.

Following the crisis, the Olympic Games were delayed, and a memorial service was held for the victims. Following the event,  the Israeli team left West Germany, fearing another attack, with Egypt following soon after in fear of an attack by people seeking revenge on them. Israeli prime minister Golda Meir followed up the attacks by ordering strikes on terrorist targets in Syria and other countries in the Middle East. The three terrorists that survived the hostage crisis were eventually released following the commandeering of a Lufthansa airplane, and the event remains a hot spot for criticism today.

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