Israeli and German jets fly over Munich Olympics massacre site, Dachau concentration camp

The joint exercises this week mark the first ever between Israel and Germany on German soil.

al-monitor Eurofighter planes of the German Luftwaffe, a Learjet and F-16 planes of the Israeli air force fly on Aug. 18, 2020, in a formation over the German air force's air base in Fuerstenfeldbruck near Munich, southern Germany, to commemorate the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics that left 11 Israelis dead. The planes also flew over the former Dachau concentration camp near Munich. Germany and Israel have stepped up their military cooperation in recent years, with the Luftwaffe taking part in joint exercises in the Israeli Negev desert in 2019.  Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images.

Aug 18, 2020

In their first-ever joint exercise in Germany, Israeli and German fighter jets today paid tribute to the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack and those killed during the Holocaust.   

On Monday, an Israeli fleet of six F-16s, two Gulfstreams and two Boeing 707 air-to-air tankers arrived at Norvenich air base near Cologne for two weeks of military exercises with their Luftwaffe counterparts. Due to the coronavirus, the training mission involving some 180 Israeli personnel will be the Israeli air force’s only mission conducted abroad this year.

In a statement, Luftwaffe chief Ingo Gerhartz called the two weeks of maneuvers "a sign of our friendship today” and a reminder that Germany must always “fight anti-Semitism with the utmost consistency" due to its Nazi past.

A joint formation flew over Furstenfeldbruck air base, the main site of the Munich Olympics massacre that left 11 Israelis and a German police officer dead. On Sept. 5, 1972, eight Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village and killed two Israelis and took nine others hostage. Those nine Israelis were killed by the Palestinians during a botched German rescue operation the next day. 

The German and Israeli jets also flew over the nearby Dachau concentration camp today. The Nazis’ first and longest-operating concentration camp was built in 1933 about 11 miles (17 kilometers) northwest of Munich. Of the camp’s 188,000 prisoners, an unknown number were murdered or died from forced labor, hunger and disease; one oft-cited estimate of those who perished is 41,500. 

This story contains reporting from AFP.

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