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Argentina Marks Anniversary of Israeli Embassy Explosion

One year after a terrorist bomb destroyed this city’s Israeli Embassy and killed 30 people, Argentine and Israeli leaders paid homage to victims of the attack and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Standing at the site where the embassy once stood, Argentine President Carlos Menem commemorated the one-year anniversary of the March 17, 1992 bombing and said he received a cable from Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres claiming Israel knew who was behind the deadly attack.

Sources from Jerusalem have said investigators determined Iran was responsible for the bombing, which also left more than 250 people injured.

But Argentine authorities have been unable, at least publicly, to show any progress in the investigation. They have so far only determined that at least 110 pounds of explosives were in the pickup truck used in the bombing.

Argentine officials have announced they would try to obtain new information from Israel so that the two countries “can seek justice together.”

Jorge Passero, chief of the nation’s federal police, said the attackers were “international terrorists” and that security agencies around the world were searching for a Pakistani man seen minutes before the blast.

Several ceremonies in synagogues and public places took place last week to commemorate the attack.

A monument to the bomb’s victims was unveiled in a religious ceremony at the Jewish cemetery of La Tablada on March 14.

The monument is a replica of the menorah which was miraculously saved from the exploded building. The original now stands intact in the temporary offices of the embassy.

PRESIDENT MENEM ATTENDS CEREMONY

During the commemoration ceremony at the site of the old embassy last Wednesday, Menem was accompanied by the Israeli ambassador to Argentina, Yitzhak Shefi, Buenos Aires Rabbi Ben Hamu, and Ruben Beraja, the president of the DAIA, Argentina’s Jewish umbrella organization.

The same day, the Argentine Congress also commemorated the bloody anniversary, remembering those who died or were wounded in the explosion.

In a special open session attended by diplomats, Jewish leaders and other public figures, members of all political parties in the lower house condemned the bombing and expressed solidarity with victims of the explosion.

They also called on the police and justice system to solve the case quickly.

The Senate also issued a statement condemning the attack.

Earlier in the day, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, spoke at the reopening of the Mater Admirabilis Church, which is across the street from where the embassy used to stand and was partially destroyed in the same attack.

Among the killed were Catholic school children.

Those responsible for the bombing “should be forgiven but the attack should not be forgotten,” Quarracino said.

The church opened with a service in memory of a friar and other victims killed in the blast.

A historic museum around the corner from the embassy opened an exhibition of all the restored works of art that had been damaged by the explosion.

Survivors of the attack, as well as relatives of the victims, were also present at some of the ceremonies.

Of the 30 people who died, nine worked at the embassy. Five were Argentines and four were Israelis.

Among the more than 50 people who now work at the diplomatic mission only 20 were there one year ago.

One person who stayed is Israeli Consul Danni Carmon, a father of five who lost his wife in the explosion.

The Argentine government, which promised after the blast to give loans or grants to victims and owners of damaged property, is still processing claims.

Government officials said they have paid out nearly $3 million to 262 people, resolving less than half of the 587 still-pending cases.

Officials this week also announced the site for the new Israeli mission. The embassy will be built on a quiet tree-lined street in the Belgrano neighborhood. Nearby are a school, a church, the foreign minister’s private residence and several other embassies.

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