The 20-year-old investigation into the July 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires took a new turn on Jan. 2 with the publication of a claim by former Israeli ambassador to Argentina Yitzhak Aviran (1993-2000) that his country had killed most of the perpetrators. "The vast majority of the guilty parties are in another world, and this is something we did," Aviran told the Spanish-language Jewish News Agency (AJN) in an interview about his experiences in Argentina. On Jan. 3 Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor dismissed the claim as "complete nonsense."
The bombing of AMIA's community center left 85 dead and some 300 injured in the worst incident of anti-Semitic violence since World War II; it came two years after 29 people were killed in a bombing of the Israeli embassy. Argentine prosecutors have accused Iran of planning the attacks and using operatives from the Lebanese organization Hezbollah to carry them out. The investigation has made little progress over the past two decades, and former president Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999) faces possible charges of impeding the initial inquiry. In 2013 Argentina and Iran agreed to proceed with a joint investigation into the AMIA attack, but Israel opposes the accord, as do Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman and spokespeople from Argentina's Jewish community.
"From Aviran's statements we can deduce the reasons why Israel has opposed the Memorandum of Understanding" with Iran, Argentine foreign minister Héctor Timerman said in response to the interview. Aviran's "words are very serious because they would imply that Israel hid information from Argentine courts, blocking new evidence from appearing," Timerman added. He demanded that Aviran tell Argentine prosecutors whether Israel has further information. (AJN, Jan. 2; Haaretz, Israel, Jan. 3, from Jewish Telegraphic Agency;Buenos Aires Herald, Jan. 4)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, January 19.