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Israel Blames Hizbullah For Argentine Bombing

With Nazi investigation files located in bombed building, Israelis also consider possibility of Nazi role

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AS the Israeli Army sent a specially trained rescue team to Buenos Aires to search for possible survivors of a July 18 bomb blast in the Argentine capital, government officials here were blaming Iran for the attack.

But they had not ruled out the possibility that Nazi sympathizers might have planted the bomb that killed at least 26 people and wounded 140 at the Argentine Jewish community's headquarters.

``The signs point to Iran, but there is nothing definitive,'' Israeli Health Minister Efraim Sneh said on July 19.

Suspicion here fell immediately on the radical Islamist Hizbullah group and its sponsor, Iran, because of similarities between the July 18 blast and an explosion at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in March 1992.

That attack, Israeli officials say, was almost certainly the work of Hizbullah militants, although no suspect was ever caught, and investigators found no proof of responsibility.

``The March `92 explosion can be traced with a high degree of certainty to Islamic fundamentalists connected to Iran, and this one resembles it,'' said Uri Dromi, head of the Israeli government press office. ``So the conclusion is the same as we reached last time, unless we find out something else about Nazis or local anti-Semites.''

[Tehran Radio said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi denied any Iranian involvement in the bombing. Tehran radio did not comment on the arrest of an Iranian citizen at Buenos Aires airport soon after the sealing of Argentina's borders.]

Israeli security officials had warned Israeli institutions worldwide to step up safety precautions after Israeli soldiers kidnapped a senior Hizbullah leader from his home in south Lebanon last May and after a June airstrike on a training camp in Lebanon in which approximately 40 Hizbullah guerrillas were killed.

The bombing is seen here as revenge for those attacks, although no group has yet made a credible claim of responsibility.

But Mr. Dromi said the bombing would not deter further Israeli strikes against Hizbullah, which is fighting to oust Israeli troops from south Lebanon. ``Hizbullah is a bitter enemy, and we don't need any excuses to strike at them,'' he said.

At the same time, the fact that the building destroyed in Buenos Aires housed recently released Argentine government documents about suspected Nazi war criminals raises the possibility that Nazi sympathizers might be involved in the blast.


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