Remembering the attack on the Buenos Aires Israeli Embassy

The State of Israel will not rest until those who committed this atrocious crime receive justice.

Buenos Aires memorial 311 (photo credit: Gil Shefler)
Buenos Aires memorial 311
(photo credit: Gil Shefler)
On Friday we commemorated 20 years since the vile and murderous attack against the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. As has become customary, every year we conduct a memorial service to remember and honor the 29 victims who lost their lives in this terrorist attack.
Among the victims were Israeli diplomats and their spouses, dedicated Argentinean embassy workers, and unconnected bystanders. The lives of the victims may have been cut short, but their mission continues.
As a former ambassador and as deputy foreign minister I can say firmly that this and other more recent attacks on embassies and diplomats will not deter us from continuing to represent the State of Israel in all locations and arenas.
Two years later, Buenos Aires suffered another fatal attack, when the Jewish community center, AMIA, was targeted, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds more. These attacks added a new element to relations between Israel and Argentina – the struggle against the scourge of international terrorism.
Many of those who planned and carried out these terrible crimes continue to walk freely and plan new attacks around the world. One is the current Iranian minister of defense, Ahmad Vahidi, who is wanted by Interpol for his role in these mass murders.
While many in my country are rightly worried about the potential threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, the attacks which took place here clearly demonstrate that Iran has tentacles which spread across the globe, each of which will maintain the ability to murder whenever and wherever it chooses under an umbrella of nuclear immunity and impunity.
We know that acquiring nuclear weapons capability is only a means to an end for Iran, not the end itself.
Iran seeks first regional hegemony in the Middle East and then to confront the international community as a global hegemony.
In recent months we have witnessed many attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including India, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Thailand. Many of these attacks were specifically aimed at Israeli diplomats, whose profession was originally created to avoid war and bloodshed. By targeting the very symbols of peaceful relations between nations, the Iranians are deliberately sowing conflict, proving that the Iranian regime’s rationale is against peace, stability and security.
Today, the Iranian government’s greatest export is terror, its foremost trade is murder and its ambition is chaos and bloodshed. A nuclear weapon will merely increase the scope of its ambitions and make its goals more attainable.
We know the recent attack on southern Israel by terrorist organizations in Gaza were also at the behest and with the full backing of the Iranian regime. The government of Israel will take all necessary action to protect its citizens and interests at home and around the world. We will do whatever is required to prevent further death and destruction and to deprive the Iranian government of the ability to achieve its bloody aims.
We will do this hand in hand with the international community, which shares our deep concern over Iran’s activities.
The manifestation of solidarity with the victims of the attack at the Israeli Embassy by distinguished Argentinean officials is evidence of our shared values. If we unite and join forces, we will overcome evil and build a better world for ourselves and our children.
Preservation of historical memory is an essential element in building such a world. The struggle against terrorism is not the responsibility of any one country. This is a global battle, fought across continents, cultures and borders.
Only an all-out war on murderers who do not hesitate to intentionally harm helpless civilians can ensure the existence of freedom and peace in our world. To the bereaved families in Israel and Argentina, we send a clear message that the Israeli government and people will never forget this horrible crime.
The memory of your loved ones is engraved on our hearts forever. The State of Israel will not rest until those who committed this atrocious crime receive justice.
The writer is deputy foreign minister and this op-ed is based on a speech he delivered at the official state ceremony in Buenos Aires to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy there.