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On Anniversary of Argentine Bombing, the Search for Justice Intensifies

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Commemorating the15th anniversary of a terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy here, members of the Jewish community and top govermental officials came to show solidarity and seek justice.

Among those who came to Israeli Embassy Square — an empty spot left in downtown Buenos Aires by the destroyed embassy — on a cloudy, humid afternoon March 16 were a number of top government officials.

They included Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, wife of President Nestor Kirchner and a senator from Buenos Aires province, as well as the ministers of internal affairs, defense, foreign affairs, justice and education. They were joined by the mayor of Buenos Aires and several legislators, and a crowd estimated at 1,500 people.

Israeli representatives Ambassador Rafael Eldad; Aharon Abramovich, director general of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry; and Dany Carmon, who was Israeli consul at the time of the terrorist attack on March 17, 1992.

Carmon’s wife, Eliora, was among the 29 people killed in the car bombing. The couple had five children. More than 250 people were injured in the attack.

“I came to Argentina to support this claim for justice,” Abramovich told JTA. “I am positive the truth will come out.”

Carmon, who now is an Israeli official at the United Nations, said that “in the end, everything brings us to Iran.”

To local Jews, the presence of so many government officials was seen as a signal to pursue justice from the current authorities. Israeli Embassy sources told JTA that the governmental presence was historic.

It was never that overwhelming in 15 years, one source said. It is certainly a sign of the current administration’s commitment.”

In their speeches, victims’ relatives praised the changed attitude of current officials compared to those from previous governments, but some noted that the increased interest coincides with elections this year for the presidency and the Buenos A! ires may oralty.

The day before the commemoration, an Interpol executive committee requested the arrests of five Iranians and a Lebanese believed to have been involved in a 1994 terrorist attack at the city’s AMIA Jewish community center, which killed 85 people and wounded 300.

Interpol’s action was recognized as complementing Argentina’s new interest in bringing the perpetrators of the attacks to justice, said AMIA President Luis Grynwald.

In December, Argentina’s Supreme Court ruled that the embassy case would not be closed. The court has determined that Iran bears political responsibility for the attack, but there have been no convictions.

Investigations into the embassy attack have made little progress, Grynwald lamented.

Lior Hayat, the Israeli Embassy spokesman, told JTA that the lack of progress in the case was “deplorable” but hoped that advances in the AMIA case “might encourage the Israeli bombing investigation.”

On March 15, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the Argentine government to establish an independent investigative unit to deal with the embassy attack modeled after the unit established to investigate the AMIA bombing.

Also March 15, some 600 young Jews from various groups gathered in front of the former embassy to remember the attack.

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