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September 13, 2000
Extra security for IsraelisPaul Majendie
Almost 30 years after the Munich massacre Israel still faces the greatest terrorist threat at the Olympic games, Australian police said on Wednesday.
New South Wales police commissioner Peter Ryan said extra security had been provided for Israeli athletes at the Sydney games which open on Friday.
He said police were "looking at the Israeli team particularly, and Israel, as being one of those countries that attracts a great deal of threats of terrorism against it."
"Israel has always been on the top of our list as being one of those vulnerable countries," he told Channel Nine. "The United States is another and there are one or two others."
His concerns were echoed by Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh who said: "We must learn from history since Munich in 1972 ... For 28 years, the culture of terrorism has not changed."
Eleven Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian guerrillas at the Munich games. Five of the attackers were also killed in a bungled rescue attempt.
Israel believes that Osama Bin Laden, who tops the United States' most wanted list on suspicion of masterminding U.S. embassy attacks in Africa, may be targeting Israelis next.
"Until recently we thought that we were not on his hit list but we discovered that we are and that Israel, Israelis and Israeli interests are on his target list," Sneh told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Ryan said security guards were traveling around Sydney with the Israeli athletes but none was armed.
"They don't have any other weapons with them at all because that's expressly banned by the commonwealth government," he said. "We've made this quite clear to Israeli security officials."
The Israeli team was stopped from bringing 10 bullet proof vests and 10 gun holsters in when they arrived for the Games.
"We agreed with them that, were the situation to escalate in any way, we would provide them with protective clothing and equipment that they would require, short of firearms," Ryan said.
Stressing that Australian security forces had a good working relationship with the Israelis, he said: "As far as I am aware, they are abiding by the rules that we've laid down."
Sydney's Jewish community plans to commemorate the Munich athletes with a memorial at Australia's largest Jewish school. It will be dedicated on September 26 to coincide with the Hebrew calendar date of the anniversary.
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