The Israel-Hamas War Returns Anguish to the Jewish Community in Argentina

After hundreds of people were killed and others kidnapped on October 7, when Hamas militants assaulted multiple sites in Israel, Marina Degtiar thought she had traveled back in time to July 18, 1994. She was shattered thirty years ago by what transpired in Buenos Aires. Her brother Cristian, 21, worked at a Jewish community center when a van carrying a bomb detonated inside. The incident, which left 300 people injured and killed 85 people, including Degtiar’s brother, was the bloodiest of its kind in Argentina’s history.

 

The Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association, abbreviated AMIA in Spanish, was destroyed two years after the Israeli Embassy in Argentina was bombed in 1992, resulting in the deaths of 29 individuals. Seven of the fatalities, according to Israeli officials, have never been identified. No one has been found guilty despite Argentine prosecutors accusing Iranian leaders of planning the AMIA massacre and claiming that Hezbollah operatives carried it out. The former officials and diplomats who are facing accusations but deny any involvement have not been turned over by Iran. Time hasn’t eased the pain for many who lost friends and relatives in the tragedy. Some claim that the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the case’s lack of justice have made it worse.

 

“I’m emotional, if you’re asking,” Degtiar replied. “I feel very sad because what’s happening in Israel affects us as humankind, as Jews, and me personally.” Degtiar claimed to have lived two lives: one prior to losing Cristian and one subsequent to his passing. She used to think her family lived far away from the bombs they witnessed going off on TV decades ago. “Thirty years ago, it was not natural, here in Argentina, to talk about terrorism,” Degtiar stated. “Bombs did not explode at home like they first exploded at the embassy, or in my case, in the attack against the AMIA.”

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