The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was located in a stately four-floor building in the luxurious Retiro neighborhood, east of the main street, Av. 9 de Julio, on the corner of Arroyo and Suipacha. The embassy was built in an old construction style, with no support beams, and therefore there was an increased chance of collapse in the case of a quake. There were signposts forbidding parking near the façade of the building on Arroyo St., but there was no actual barrier. A church stood opposite the Israeli embassy, and the embassies of Ireland and Romania were also located in the area.
The wing that collapsed following the explosion had only two floors, the lower of which was being renovated. At the time of the explosion, approximately 50 embassy employees and construction workers were inside the building. Most of the employees were in the wing that did not collapse.
Just before the explosion, security officers went on patrol around the embassy and returned three or four minutes later, not seeing anything suspicious.
Soon after, a car bomb, estimated to have carried approximately 225-340kg of TNT, exploded before the embassy façade, near the front door.
The vehicle, a 1985 F-100 Ford pickup truck, went up the curb near the car entrance with both of its right-hand side wheels and exploded after driving into a tree. The car was two meters away from the embassy wall at the time of the explosion.
The investigation of the terrorist attack revealed that the vehicle left a parking lot on Av. 9 de Julio approximately five minutes before the attack and took the shortest route to the embassy.
The Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires (Photo: GettyImages/אימג'בנק)
Since there was too little time between the stopping of the car and its explosion for the driver to escape, the assumption is that either a suicide bomber or a duped driver was behind the wheel of the car.
Responsibility for the Attack
Several organizations and groups, including some unknown ones, claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack. Hizballah stated that they executed the attack in retaliation for the killing of their secretary general, Abbas al-Musawi, by Israel on February 16, 1992, approximately one month before the attack in Buenos Aires.
Note that at the time, the Israeli intelligence had no specific threat warnings regarding terrorist attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets in Argentina. However, it was known that Argentina was home to a large Arab community, where anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian activities took place.