Survivors mark Argentina embassy attack 20 years on (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL SHEFLER 03/16/12)
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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.
“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
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
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.” (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/16/12)
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