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Call for justice as Argentina bombing recalled

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Survivors’ families called for justice as the 17th anniversary of the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was commemorated.

Survivors, victims’ families, national and city officials, foreign ambassadors, local Jewish leaders and students were among those on hand for Tuesday’s 40-minute ceremony at the former site of the embassy. The now-empty spot is known as Israeli Embassy Square.

No one has been brought to justice in the 1992 attack, which killed 29 and wounded hundreds.

The wife of victim Miguel Angel Lantieri, who was installing air conditioning in the building when it was bombed, called on former President Carlos Menem and the former head of the Internal Affairs Ministry to testify.

“The silence of the state makes it an accomplice,” said Nelly Duran, a Uruguayan. Survivors feel “empty and helpless.”

The names of the victims were read aloud at the ceremony, which began at 2:50 p.m. — the precise time the building was blown up on March 17, 1992.

Daniel Gazit, Israel’s ambassador to Argentina, said the current Argentine government is interested in sorting out the case. “The will might not be enough after 17 years that went by, but I am in touch with the government and acknowledge their interest,” Gazit told JTA.

Survivor Lea Kovensky, the military attache secretary at the time, lamented a lack of interest by local media. “Time goes by and people have no conscience,” said Kovensky, who was out of the building having coffee and smoking a cigarette when the blast hit. “I think the fact that the anniversary was not reflected as news of the day and that the attendance is not big enough is a serious matter.”

Asked about the lack of interest, Gazit said, “Some people might see the attack as focused to a foreign symbol [Israel], but it was indeed against Argentina and its integrity.”

On Monday night, the local Jewish youth bureau organized a more intimate tribute at the site of the embassy.

Two years after the embassy attack, the AMIA Jewish community center was bombed, killing 85.

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