Survivors mark Argentina embassy attack 20 years on

Israeli-Argentiean survivor of 1992 suicide attack says failure to try any of the culprits remains a sore issue.

March 16, 2012 00:57
2 minute read.
Dignitaries at the Buenos Aires memorial [file]

Buenos Aires memorial 311. (photo credit: Gil Shefler)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Smoking may have saved Lea Kovensky’s life.

On a hot afternoon of March 17, 1992 – exactly 20 years ago this Saturday – Kovensky stepped outside the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, where she worked as a secretary to the military attaché, to light up a cigarette. Suddenly, a huge explosion occurred.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

“I was knocked to the ground by the blast and several of my teeth were broken,” the 56-year-old Israeli-Argentinean recalled in a phone interview from Buenos Aires on Thursday.

Despite her wounds, Kovensky could be considered lucky. Two of her colleagues standing beside her were more seriously wounded, though both survived. Had she still been in her office, she said, things might have been even worse.

The ceiling above her desk collapsed, she said, and it was unlikely she would have come out alive.

The suicide bombing that struck the Israeli Embassy that day left 29 people dead and 242 wounded. The attack, and a similar one on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires two years later, are believed to have been planned and carried out by Hezbollah and Iran, its main backer. But while several Lebanese and Iranian suspects have been implicated in the bombings by Argentinean authorities – including Imad Mughniyah, the shadowy Hezbollah operative killed in an explosion in Damascus in 2008 – no one has yet been tried.

For Kovensky and other survivors of the twin attacks, this has been is a sore issue.

“Perhaps the failure to find those who planned the attack on the embassy is what led to the second attack on the AMIA building,” she said.

After the bombing, Kovensky underwent a long period of recovery that included years of therapy. Those who died were more than just colleagues, she said. They were her family.

“If there were weddings, we’d all go together,” she said. “If somebody’s son had a bar mitzva, we all went.” But she isn’t angry or scared to go to the Israeli Embassy, where she still works as the secretary. “I love Israel and I love Argentina.”

This week, a series of events are being organized to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the bombing, said Yoav Adler, the embassy’s spokesman.

The main ceremony held at the embassy on Friday will be attended by Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled (Likud), Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) and Israeli Ambassador Daniel Gazit on the Israeli side, and Vice President Amado Boudou and Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri from the Argentinean one.

In addition, an exhibit featuring photos of the survivors will open at the Jose Hernandez subway station, one of the busiest in the city, located in the Belgrano neighborhood.

The embassy also persuaded four of the country’s top soccer teams – Boca Juniors, River Plate, Velez Sarsfield and Independiente – to pose with plaques commemorating the event.

Adler said the 20th anniversary of the bombing has been in the news in Argentina over the past week. It was the most discussed topic on Twitter in Argentina, he said, but Kovensky said she thought the deadlier attack on the AMIA building in 1994 that killed 85 people and wounded more than 300 has slightly overshadowed the first bombing.

“Perhaps that’s the way it goes,” she said. “Survivors of attacks always remember those they survived while others forget.”

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN