Senior members of the Foreign Ministry made their way to Buenos Aires on Wednesday evening for a series of events commemorating the 25th anniversary of a deadly terror attack on the Israeli embassy there.
Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem and Modi Ephraim, the deputy director-general for Latin America, are leading the Israeli delegation, which also includes family members of Israelis killed in the 1992 attack. They are scheduled to meet with senior politicians, including President Mauricio Macri and Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta.
“We remember our fallen colleagues as well as the local employees who lost their lives in this Iran-instigated terror attack,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told The Times of Israel this week. “We come to Argentina to pay our respect together with important personalities in the Argentinean government and the Argentinean Jewish community.”
On March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded hundreds in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in what still is the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission. A group with ties to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the bombing.
“The memory of those terrible days in Argentina is etched on our hearts, the images never fading from our minds,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week during a memorial event at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
“I am sure that you all remember the moment when the news about the attack on the embassy reached us in Israel. A bridge stretched thousands of kilometers between Jerusalem and Buenos Aires, a bridge which connected us in our joint destiny, our anguish, empathy, solidarity and clarity.”
Netanyahu said Israel knew right away that Tehran was behind the attack. “Iran set it in motion, Iran planned it and Iran, through its proxy Hezbollah, also carried it out.”
Another example of Iranian sponsorship of terrorism followed in 1994 when the AMIA Jewish community center was bombed, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds, the prime minister said.
“We warned then that the beast of terror growing under the auspices of Iran, this disease spreading throughout the Middle East and the entire world, would not go away,” he said.
“Since the attack in Argentina, Iran, through its proxy Hezbollah, has established a global network of terror in more than 30 countries on five continents. It is the biggest instigator of terror in the world. Its victims are Jews, Israelis, citizens of the West and citizens of the East, domestic insurgents and those who oppose the regime from the outside.”
Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, advancing its ballistic missile program spreading instability in the region, the prime minister added. “The regime in Tehran aspires to plant its flag atop the ruins of the free world. It continues to threaten to annihilate Israel. One of our security agencies estimates that over 80% of Israel’s fundamental security problems stem from Iran.”
In Buenos Aires, the Israeli delegation is expected to meet with President Macri in what is billed as the first time the country’s leader encounters relatives of those killed during the 1992 embassy attack.
Vice President Gabriela Michetti is scheduled to attend the main memorial event, to take place on Friday afternoon — at the exact time the attack occurred a quarter of the century ago — at the site of the bombing in Buenos Aires’s Retiro neighborhood.
The group is also scheduled to meet with Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña, Buenos Aires Mayor Larreta, Environment Minister Sergio Bergman — a Conservative rabbi — and deputy finance minister Sebastian Galiani.
Among the 29 victims of the 1992 embassy attack were 25 Argentinians and four Israelis. Netanyahu honored them during his speech at the Foreign Ministry last week.
He hailed Israel’s then-ambassador to Argentina, David Goldman Ben Rephael, as “a true professional, a lover of justice, smart, fair, humble and good-hearted.
Eli Carmon, the wife of Consul Danny Carmon, “had a radiant personality, was an exemplary mother and a gifted and hardworking woman,” Netanyahu said. Eli Ben Zeev, a security officer was uncompromising, selfless, meticulous and reliable. Zehava Zehavi, the embassy’s first secretary was “always willing to help and the first to volunteer,” he said.
“A heart-wrenching tragedy befell the families and changed their lives forever – the families of our murdered victims, of the local victims, Jews and non-Jews alike, and the family of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”