Israel Withdraws Team from Euro Junior Champs Due to Security Concerns -- July 4, 2001
JERUSALEM, July 4. ISRAEL'S Junior National Swimming Team, which had been scheduled to leave on Monday for the European Junior Championships in Malta, has been grounded due to fears about inadequate security.
Israel's General Security Service (GSS) refused the team permission to attend the meet since the GSS would not be able to send an armed security detail to accompany the team abroad. Ever since the Munich Massacre in 1972, in which 11 Israeli Olympic athletes were killed by Arab terrorists, Israeli teams have always been accompanied abroad by crack security teams. However, Maltese law prohibits bringing any weapons into that island nation.
The GSS decision brought a stinging rebuke by Moshe Hirsch, head of the Israeli Swimming Federation: "How can we justify asking all the countries in the world to come to Israel for the Maccabiah Games despite the security problems in Israel, yet we're afraid to go to a friendly country? We should never surrender to terrorist threats."