Twenty years ago today, a car bomb exploded in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 29 nine people, injuring 242 more, and becoming the deadliest attack on an Israeli mission ever.
At nearly 3PM, a suicide bomber drove a pickup truck loaded with explosives into the front of the embassy. The explosion destroyed not only the embassy, but also a Catholic church and a school, both near the embassy. The attack killed only four Israelis, with Argentine civilians, including many children, making up the remaining dead.
In the wake of the attack, the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming Israel’s assassination of a Hezbollah official in February 1992 as the motive for the suicide bombing. Intelligence surveillance from US security agencies also suggested Iran was aware of the attack in advance, and in 1998, Argentina expelled seven Iranian diplomats over evidence of Iranian involvement in the bombing. However, no charges were ever filed, although the late former President Nestor Kirchner declared that the Argentine government’s failure in the 1990s to investigate the bombing was a “disgrace,” and reopened the case. With twenty-nine civilian victims, the bombing was also the worst in Argentina’s history up to that date, although the 1994 bombing of the AMIA building that claimed 85 lives would later become the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history.