Palestine: Part 16 – 1972 Munich Massacre
Palestine: Part 15 – Black September
After the events of Black September in Jordan, the rift between the Palestinian leadership and the Kingdom of Jordan continued to widen. The Arab League affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and called on all the Arab states, including Jordan, to undertake the defense of Palestinian national unity and not to interfere in internal Palestinian affairs. The Arab League also ‘affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent national authority under the command of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in any Palestinian territory that is liberated.’
King Ḥussein dissolved the Jordanian parliament. Half of its members had been West Bank representatives. He renounced Jordanian claims to the West Bank, and allowed the PLO to assume responsibility as the Provisional Government of Palestine. The Kingdom of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria no longer acted as the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, or their territory.
1972 Munich Massacre
The Munich massacre was an attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, on 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, who were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer, by Black September. Shortly after the crisis began, they demanded the release of 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails, and the release of the founders of the German Red Army Faction, who were held in German prisons. Black September called the operation “Iqrit and Biram”, after two Palestinian Christian villages whose inhabitants were expelled by the Haganah in 1948.
The attackers were apparently given logistical assistance by German neo-Nazis. Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during a failed rescue attempt. The three surviving attackers were captured, but later released by West Germany following the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner. Israel responded to the killers’ release with Operation “Spring of Youth” and Operation “Wrath of God”.
On 8 September, Israeli planes bombed ten PLO bases in Syria and Lebanon in response to the massacre. Up to 200 people were killed. On 9 April 1973, Israel launched Operation “Spring of Youth”, a joint Mossad-IDF operation in Beirut. The targets were the head of Fatah’s intelligence arm, which ran Black September, the head of the PLO’s so-called Western Sector, which controlled PLO action inside Israel; and the PLO spokesman.
A group of Sayeret commandos were taken in nine missile boats and a small fleet of patrol boats to a deserted Lebanese beach, before driving in two cars to downtown Beirut, where they killed all three targets. Two further detachments of commandos blew up the PFLP’s headquarters in Beirut and a Fatah explosives plant. The leader of the commando team that conducted the operations was Ehud Barak.
On 21 July 1973, in the so-called Lillehammer affair, a team of Mossad agents mistakenly killed a Moroccan man unrelated to the Munich attack, in Lillehammer, Norway, after an informant mistakenly said that man was the head of Force 17 and a Black September operative. Five Mossad agents, including two women, were captured by the Norwegian authorities, while others managed to slip away. The five were convicted of the killing and imprisoned, but were released and returned to Israel in 1975.
The massacre prompted many European countries to establish permanent, professional, and immediately available counter-terrorism forces, or reorganize already existing units to such purpose. The massacre also prompted prominent arms designers and manufacturers to produce new types of weapons more suitable for counter-terrorism.
Palestine: Part 17 – Ten Point Program