Families of Israeli Athletes Murdered in Munich Olympics Demand $125m From UN

The families are asking that the UN grant them compensation from the funds left over by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi, who Israel says was connected to the deadly Munich attack, according to a German report

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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German officers on the roof of the building where Israeli athletes were held in Munich, in 1972.
German officers on the roof of the building where Israeli athletes were held in Munich, in 1972.Credit: AP
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

The families of the 11 Israeli athletes who were killed in an attack at the Munich Olympics in 1972 are demanding that the United Nations provide them with 110 million euros ($124.5 million) in compensation, amounting to 10 million for each family.

The families are asking that the UN grant them compensation from the funds left over by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi, which were confiscated by the organization after his death in 2011, according to a report by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The report said that Israeli ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, provided the United Nations with information that connected Gadhafi to the massacre, which was carried out by the Palestinian Black September organization. According to the families of the athletes, Gadhafi was involved in the attack in several ways: among others, some of the terrorists who carried out the massacre were trained in Libya, and one entered into Germany with a fake Libyan passport.

It was also alleged that Gadhafi paid Yasser Arafat – then a member of the Fatah Palestinian resistance organization and later chairman of the Palestinian Authority – five million dollars after the attack as "recognition." Libya also held celebrations for the militants following the release of three of them from a German prison.

Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the families have received compensation in the past from Germany, due to the failure of the country's security system which enabled the massacre. A few months after the Olympics, one million dollars were transferred to the families through the Red Cross. In 2002, Germany sent them an additional three million.

The families' current argument relies on the fact that in the past, Libya has compensated the victims of terrorist incidents that were carried out by its citizens or on its soil. In 2008, Libya transferred 1.5 billion dollars to the families of the 270 victims of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing—a bomb attack on an aircraft flying from London to New York, for which Libya was held responsible.

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