Closure, Sort Of

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Germany delivered an official apology to Israel and the families of the 11 Israeli athletes slain by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, as both countries this week commemorated the 50th anniversary of the attack, the New York Times reported.

German politicians, including President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, acknowledged Germany’s failure to properly protect the Israeli athletes and apologized for failing to disclose information related to the murders.

On Sept. 5, 1972, eight militants from the “Black September” group gained access to the Olympic village where they killed two Israeli athletes and took hostage another nine from the Israeli delegation. Efforts to rescue the Olympic team culminated in a shootout between the terrorists and German security forces – with all the hostages killed.

The incident led to a deterioration of German-Israeli relations, which both countries had worked to build following the end of World War II. The victims’ families blamed the German government for mishandling the response to the attack and said it failed to take responsibility for its role in the tragedy.

Still, the German government has now reached a last-minute deal with the relatives, which includes compensation of $28.1 million. The agreement also promised the establishment of an Israeli-German historical commission that would probe the event.

Shlomit Romano Barzilay, daughter of slain weightlifter Yossef Romano, called the deal “a kind of closure for us after 50 years.”

“Finally, everything is being worked through,” she added.

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