Israeli Envoy Chides Argentina on Fifth Anniversary of Bombing

Argentine Jews this week commemorated the fifth anniversary of the March 17, 1992, bombing of the Israeli Embassy here with bitter criticism of the government for failing to capture those responsible for the attack.

Some 1,500 people gathered Monday morning across the street from the Argentine Supreme Court to criticize the government’s inability to solve the car bombing, which left 29 dead and some 100 wounded.

Later in the day, at the exact time of the explosion, mournful ceremonies took place at the Jewish cemetery in La Tablada, just outside Buenos Aires.

Under a garden tent, government officials, Cabinet members, politicians from almost every party, diplomats and Jewish community officials observed a minute of silence for the explosion’s victims.

Argentina’s chief rabbi, Shlomo Ben Hamu, said Kaddish.

Israel’s ambassador to Argentina, Itzhak Aviran, was the sole speaker — and he did not mince words.

Looking directly at the gathering of Argentine government officials, he said, “Any country has a duty to protect its guests. A diplomatic mission is a guest. Our mission, and I say this with pain, was not protected by Argentina.

“This country should capture those who helped the bombers here,” said Aviran. “Such an attack is impossible unless the terrorists have a local connection, people ready to do intelligence work. Capturing them is the only way to guarantee that there will not be other bombings.

“But unfortunately, after five years, there is nothing to report,” he added. “Everything seems empty, so empty.

“Why does not Argentina go after those who spread anti-Semitism, those who vandalize our cemeteries, those who bomb us?” asked Aviran, a frequent critic of the government’s fruitless investigation. “The Argentine judiciary and security agencies have to identify the terrorists and capture them.”

Indignant voices crying “Justice! Justice!” interrupted the ambassador’s speech several times.

When the ceremony was over, the contingent of government officials made a quick exit.

Argentine officials have also been unable to solve the July 18, 1994, bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Association, also known as AMIA, which left 86 dead and more than 300 wounded.

Jewish leaders here and abroad have cited incompetence, corruption and anti- Semitism among security and government officials as causes for Argentina’s inability to solve either case.

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