Argentine forces stage massive drill at Israeli embassy, without warning locals

Hundreds of police, military descend on Buenos Aires compound, alarming residents with unannounced hostage-taking scenario

Argentinian security forces hold a drill near the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, February 3, 2018 (Argentine Police)
Argentinian security forces hold a drill near the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, February 3, 2018 (Argentine Police)

Hundreds of Argentinian security forces and and emergency responders held a large-scale drill Sunday simulating a hostage-taking scenario inside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Argentine Federal Police said the exercise involved members of Argentina’s police and military, as well as fire and medical rescue teams.

Footage of the drill aired on local TV showed commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto the roof of the building and special forces securing suspects in the street during a simulated hostage situation.

Israeli officials did not take part in the exercise, although several embassy employees played the parts of the hostages.

Argentinian security forces hold a drill near the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, February 3, 2018 (Argentine Police)

The drill was held as a surprise, alarming neighbors and Israelis who arrived at the embassy Sunday afternoon. As soon as the exercise began, the military and the Israeli embassy issued public alerts to calm fears.

Some 400 special forces troops, with the support of helicopters, armored personnel carriers and first responders, were involved in the simulated hostage taking at the  embassy.

The exercise in downtown Buenos Aires was supervised by National Secretary of Security Eugenio Burzaco, Federal Police commissioner General Néstor Roncaglia and the first secretary from the Israeli Embassy, Nir Kochay, the Spanish-language LaVoz news website reported.

“This simulation allows all divisions of the Federal Police to act together and is a good preparation for situations that may happen in the future,” Burzaco told reporters.

Burzaco also thanked the diplomatic staff of the embassy and its security personnel.

Kochay said that it was “very important to be prepared” for a hostage situation and to “get closer” to the Argentine authorities and their security forces, LaVoz reported.

In March, 1992, a suicide truck bomb drove into the Israeli embassy and exploded, killing 29 people and wounding 242 others. The terrorist attack destroyed the embassy in the first international terrorist attack on Argentina’s soil.

Argentina has accused Iran of perpetrating the 1992 attack and also of the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 and injured hundreds. The perpetrators of both crimes have never been caught.

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