Sixteen years have passed since the morning when a Lebanese terrorist blew himself up inside a car bomb at the entrance to the Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring 330 others.
On Sunday, thousands across the Argentinean capital held commemoration ceremonies for the massacre, while frustration over the unresolved case continued to intensify.
Although responsibility for the attack was ascribed to Iran
and assassinated senior Hezbollah
official Imad Mugniyah, no one was put on trial for its planning and execution.
Thousands carrying pictures of victims (Photo: Reuters)
Andres Malamud was 37-years-old when he lost his life in the explosion. Malamud, who was an architect, was busy supervising over construction work in the building. "Despite all the years that have passed, there is no one sitting behind bars today," Diana Wiesner, Malamud's widow, told Ynet.
"Every year our anticipation keeps fading away. We are tired and furious that justice has not been served. In our country, the legal system is not completely free of political influence, and until this day we don’t officially know who was responsible for the attack," she said.
According to Wiesner, "All the governments that have come and gone since then have all remained united behind the immunity they bestowed on the terrorists."
Scene of the explosion (Photo: AFP)
This year, Wiesner attended two memorial ceremonies – one organized by young community members, and the other held in front of the Jewish community building at exactly the same time the attack took place – 9.53 am.
"They want us to believe that all this has to do with the 'Jewish problem,' and is unrelated to the Argentinean society," Wiesner lamented.
"Many times they reject our criticism, claiming we speak out of pain, as the victims' relatives. Unfortunately, throughout the years we have realized that even if we speak out of pain, it does not mean we are not speaking the truth. Our goal is to obtain justice," she noted.
Despite their discontent with the authorities, Diana said the local Jewish community had no intention of letting the memory of the event wither away. "I was very touched by the fact that even 16 years after the event, so many people gathered to remember the victims. They stood on the streets and embraced in extremely cold and rainy weather–simply demanding justice."
Andrea Guterman, a kindergarten teacher and teacher's daughter, was 28-years-old when she was killed in the attack. Her mother, Sophia, could not attend the ceremonies due to her frail health.
Despite her medical condition, Sophia continued commemorating the victims throughout the years in her work with youths at school and in the press. Despite her extensive engaged, Sophia expressed pessimism over the possibility of obtaining justice after so many years.
"We, the relatives of the victims, have tired from demanding justice. It seems we cannot change this situation, in which those responsible for the attack have not been punished."
Guterman also placed part of the responsibility on the Argentinean government and said it too needed to account for all the developments since the attack. "We are still waiting to receive clarifications on the case and demand a just trial of all those who have concealed evidence and hindered the progress of the investigation," she noted.
"The general prosecutor continues to examine whether international or domestic elements were involved in the execution of the attack, but the bottom line was that none of the suspects were ever tried or served a prison sentence," she added.
According to Guterman, "The expectations are fading away, and although it sounds contradictive, we continue to hope because we demand justice for those who were killed in the attack."
For this reason, Gutterman did not conceal her lawsuit against the government, in which she demanded compensations. "For them, we were like insane people demanding justice and plastering false accusations. We suffered indifference and were told a sequence of lies.
"Many of the victim's family members died of a broken heart, while others suffer from dire health problems. In general, we are in poor condition, which is why we demand a financial compensation from Argentina. We are entitled to it, and will not give up," she concluded.