A German security guard has been arrested for reportedly performing a Nazi salute towards a group of Israeli athletes who were visiting the site of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, during which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were killed by a Palestinian terrorist group.
Sixteen athletes from Israel’s European Championships squad were visiting the site in Munich on Tuesday to pay respects to their countrymen who were killed during the hostage event when the gesture, which is banned in Germany, is said to have been performed.
The suspect, a 19-year-old male from Berlin, was immediately arrested and has been banned from all future European Championships events. It is understood that the visiting Israeli team did not observe the gesture.
“One of the four security guards present was observed at around 7:20 pm making a National Socialist gesture [forbidden ‘Hitler salute’],” local police said in a statement, per the Times of Israel.
The man was detained for “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations”.
The scandal comes almost exactly 50 years to the day of the 1972 Munich massacre and while Munich hosts the ongoing European Championships.
“We will not accept such deplorable actions and are glad that the police were able to arrest the perpetrator,” Marion Schone, head of the organizing committee and the Olympic Park, said. “We regret this occurrence and hope that our Israeli guests continue to feel comfortable in Munich despite this unspeakable incident.”
She added: “[The Olympic Park stands] for cosmopolitanism and diversity. We welcome people from all over the world and have a special responsibility because of the 1972 assassination.”
The event in 1972 is considered to be one of the darkest days in Olympic history. On September 5, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s apartment, immediately shooting two dead and taking a further nine hostage, and threatened to kill the remaining hostages unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released from custody.
A subsequent rescue operation resulted in the deaths of all the Israeli hostages, five of the eight Palestinians and a local police officer.
Families of the Israel team killed in the incident have vowed to ignore upcoming commemorations of the event and say that they have not received satisfactory compensation from authorities.
During a trip to Berlin this week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was accusing of enflaming tensions ahead of the anniversary by saying that Israel has committed “50 Holocausts” against Palestinians.